In February of 1946, Commodore Ben H. Wyatt, the military governor of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean, traveled to Bikini, one of the 29 atolls that comprise the Marshalls. On a Sunday after church, he assembled the Bikinians to ask if they would be willing to leave their 3.4 square mile atoll temporarily so that the United States could begin testing atomic bombs "for the good of mankind and to end all world wars." King Juda, then the leader of the Bikinian people, stood up after much confused and sorrowful deliberation among his people, and announced, "we will go believing that everything is in the hands of God."
The Bikini Atoll was the location of 23 atmospheric atomic bomb tests from June 1946 through July 1958.
The Bravo test, on February 28, 1954, was at 15 megatons the most powerful bomb ever detonated by the United States - far bigger than expected. An H-bomb, it vaporized three islands and threw radioactive debris over nearly 50,000 square miles. Bravo was a thousand times more powerful than the Fat Man and Little Boy atomic bombs that were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima during the end of World War II.
Today, the people of Bikini remain scattered throughout the Marshalls and the world as they wait for the cleanup of Bikini to begin in earnest, mostly due to the fact that the money they have received from the U.S. government is not adequate to fund a full radiological cleanup of the entire atoll.
Meanwhile, back in 1946, Louis Réard, a French automotive engineer who was running his mother's lingerie business, created his new two-piece, "atom-sized" swimsuit, which was said to reveal everything about the wearer except her mother’s maiden name. But he needed a name for it, something exotic, bold, and eye opening. Five days before he was to show the world his swimsuit creation in Paris, the U.S. Military provided him with a name after the first nuclear device was detonated at Bikini Atoll. On July 5, 1946, he unveiled his creation and the rest is history: The bikini was born.
By the way, bikini is the title of my third CD, finished in April 2002. Like the story, it incorporates power, beauty, and pain.
For more information about the Bikini Atoll, check out bikiniatoll.com.
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