The President recently went to Hiroshma to remember the first use of the nuclear weapon.
What he seemed to forget were all the lives saved, both American and Japanese, by the heroic decision of President Truman to use what was then advanced technology to stop the bloodletting of the War in the Pacific and to ensure that the United States did not leave the future of Asia to China and Russia.
This point was driven home to me when viewing a powerful video underscoring the contribution of veterans to the country.
On Saturday May 28 2016 a video link arrived in an e-mail with the simple message:
“This is a keeper….”
I think you will agree.
The sender was Admiral “Fast Ed” Fahy, as a first tour Squadron Navy A-7 Attack pilot he flew missions off Yankee Station into North Vietnam, and in a distinguished career he eventually commanded the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy and went on to Flag rank.
The fact that a Navy Admiral was so moved by the narrative about the death of a soldier speaker volumes about the great respect all who served in the US military have for their fellow warriors regardless of rank or service.
To paraphrase a great line in a poem by John Donne –“the bell tolls for thee.”
All Americans looking at the video should note that many remaining World War II Pacific veterans rendering honor to their fallen warriors may have been killed invading Japan.
Robbin Laird wrote earlier:
We can begin by understanding the context within which the U.S. first used nuclear weapons.
After bloody island campaigns, with mass suicides on Guam, and fight to the last man on Okinawa, and the defense of Okinawa in part by the widespread attacks on the US fleet by Kamikaze pilots, President Truman reached the conclusion that a nuclear attack made a great deal of sense.
The alternative was to face massive destruction and death on the Japanese mainland as the Japanese fought to the last man.
My father was one of those Army officers preparing for the invasion with a very clear expectation that he and his men would die on the assault on Japan.
He told me that “we cheered when we heard what had happened, for we knew that we now had a chance to see the war end, and possibly go home alive.”
He spent the next two years in Japan during the occupation and got to know the Japanese well.
He learned Japanese and gained a sense of great respect for Japan and a deep pain that the war had had to happen at all.
In other words, the U.S. used nuclear weapons to meet a strategic purpose not well met by conventional means.
It has been estimated that there would have been a million plus American causalities alone.
I am named for my uncle KIA on Iwo Jima.
His last message home on his 18th birthday was he planned after the war to become a Catholic Priest.
The causality rates for the battle of Iwo Jima foreshadowed the fight to the death ethos of the Imperial Japanese Forces.
The US had 6,781 killed and 19,217 wounded.
The entire Japanese forces were almost wiped out to a man around 18,000 KIA and only 216 taken prisoner.
President Truman’s heroic decision saved many families from feeling the pain which my family had to feel from the willingness of the Japanese to die to the last man, woman or child.
When President Obama makes the statement about “moral awakening” in visiting Hiroshima, he is by inference saying that the ending of the war with two atomic explosions was immoral.
The fate of Hiroshima is reduced to a policy moment in his quest of a “nuclear free world.”
He is a clever enough politician to know exactly what he means.
“. ..Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”
This is shameful posturing and a perfect example of what is being called “virtue porn” or hollow words that in the scope of history mean nothing.
The lives lost in Hiroshima are part of a broader historical context, not simply reduced to policy posturing by an American president on his way out of office.