Lessons of history

Eight years ago, the Smithsonian’s plans for an Enola Gay exhibit were denounced by conservatives for insufficient patriotic correctness. Those plans were scrapped, and instead the plane which dropped the first atomic bomb was displayed with a lot of information about the restoration of old planes. There’s a new exhibit in the works now, and it looks like the Smithsonian learned its lesson well.

In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight, in December the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) will open its new facility, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles International Airport. Over 200 aircraft and 135 space artifacts will be displayed. The centerpiece of the new exhibit will be the Enola Gay — the B-29 super-fortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Fully restored, the Enola Gay will be displayed as a “magnificent technological achievement.” Some scholars contend that, given its role in the 6 August 1945 attack, the B-29 has gained notoriety and has a symbolic meaning that extends beyond its significance as an example of the technological advances in aviation in the 1940s.

To say the least.