Seventy-five years ago this July, mushroom clouds—billowing, towering, weirdly majestic in their terrible magnitude—filled the sky for the first time since the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings that had ended World War II the year previous. Operation Crossroads, the U.S. Navy’s July 1946 atomic-bomb tests at the Marshall Islands’ Bikini Atoll, inspired a new addition to the modern lexicon: The French fashion designer Louis Réard named his daring two-piece ladies’ bathing suit the “bikini” after the test that had just transpired. (Ironic it is how a name that instantly conjures carefree summer fun should have been spawned from a grimly serious trial of warfare capabilities.)
Pieces of the Past
Family mementos offer a glimpse into life at the front lines of Operation Crossroads.
By Eric Mills