Enola Gay

The Enola Gay Smithsonian Exhibit is a really good example of how many people can interoperate an event in history differently by looking through a different point of view.  It seems that there are two very distinct reasons that the planned Enola Gay Exhibit created so much controversy.  The bomb’s survivors wanted the exhibit to portray the devastation that the atomic bombs caused, while World War II veterans wanted the exhibit to portray the Enola Gay as part of a proud end to the war.  For example, in Monroe Hatch’s letter to Martin Harwit, the Air Force Association refuses to support the originally planned exhibit because it focused too much on the horrors of war, failed to name Japan as the aggressor, and didn’t put the United States of America in a favorable light for ending the war.  Of course, it would be impossible to satisfy Japanese bomb survivors while still doing what the Air Force Association wanted.  Here, the difference between “in situ” and “in context” museum exhibits becomes very important.  Because an in context exhibit would satisfy only one side, the Smithsonian went with an in situ exhibit, as a sort of compromise.  One can recognize this by looking at the Enola Gay Exhibit summary on the Smithsonian’s website.  It describes the exhibit as being completely objective, and leaving much to interpretation.