On this date in 1945, the last atomic bomb ever dropped on a race of people was released over Nagasaki, Japan. In an instant, anywhere from 40,000 to 70,000 people were instantly killed, with many more dying over the course of the rest of 1945 and later from radiation.

President Harry Truman had to make a pretty tough decision as to whether to drop the bombs or not. It was interesting because notable scientists who had actually either worked on the project directly or gave recommendations at some point regarding the project, including Einstein and Oppenheimer, had reversed their beliefs and thought that the United States shouldn’t use them.

History now proves that what Truman did was the right thing. The Japanese leaders at the time were bent on fighting the war at any cost, whether it wiped out the entire civilization or not. Casualties on both sides would have been in the millions; read about the battles at Iwo Jima to know what was coming had Allied forces invaded Japan.

History also proves that, in the end, Emperor Hirohito (in Japan, he’s referred to as Emperor Showa), also had to end up doing the right thing, and his decision might have been tougher. He was the imperial leader, but also a religious icon. The war had been promoted as the wishes of the diety, which was him, and he had a great hand in almost every aspect of the war. Near the end, many of his advisors said the country should fight to the end, putting the life of every citizen up for loss. Some even advised a mass suicide of the entire nation. Emperor Hirohito ended up making a tough, yet correct decision, finally bringing the war to its end.

Luckily, most of us don’t have to make life and death decisions every day. That doesn’t mean some of the choices we have to make, especially in positions of leadership, may not have far reaching consequences. History is filled with stories of people who had to ultimately make decisions that either worked out or didn’t work out. The one thing almost none of them were allowed to do was just sit around waiting for things to happen.

It’s hard when you’re in a leadership position. It’s also hard when you have to make critical decisions about your own life. Unfortunately, that’s what life is all about; making choices, then living with those choices. Hopefully, you put enough thought into each decision you need to make. If you do, your chances of picking the right thing increase dramatically.

If not,… well, just hope that your wrong decisions won’t affect the lives of potentially millions of people.