Tag Archives: Hiroshima

Nothing to celebrate

The world changed forever 75 years ago to this very day.

That was when a B-29 bomber took off from Tinian Island in the Pacific Ocean and dropped a single explosive device on Hiroshima, Japan. In an instant, tens of thousands of people were vaporized; many thousands more would die from the effects of that nuclear blast.

The nation was involved in a world war with Japan. Another airplane would take off three days later and inflict the same level of destruction on Nagasaki, Japan. A week after that second blast, the Japanese surrendered. World War II was over.

They danced in the streets of this country. A few days after surrendering, Japanese and Allied officials met in Tokyo harbor to sign the documents.

We look back on this day with grimness. It’s not a moment to celebrate. It is an event to commemorate with somber reflection. I am not particularly proud to have been born in the only nation on Earth to have used nuclear weapons in war. Indeed, it is a grim reminder of the path we took to reach that moment.

We had been fighting Japan, Nazi Germany and (until 1943) fascist Italy since 1941. Then in April 1945, our commander in chief, President Roosevelt, died in Georgia and suddenly, a modest man from Missouri, Harry Truman, was thrust into the role of president.

He didn’t know about the atomic weapon being developed in New Mexico until someone from the Joint Chiefs of Staff told him about this new weapon that could end the war quickly. President Truman weighed the cost of unleashing this device against the cost of invading Japan; he chose to use the bomb.

I have long embraced President Truman’s decision. Why? I had skin in that game. You see, my father was in the Philippines when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were incinerated. He was a proud Navy sailor who might have taken part in that invasion of Japan had the order been given and, yes, he could have died in that effort. He had survived intense combat in The Med and likely figured he was living on borrowed time.

So, you must understand that President Truman’s decision allowed me to be born into this world.

Do I celebrate those twin events? Do I perform a happy dance just knowing a wartime president’s resolve allowed me to enter this world? I do none of that.

I merely want to echo the refrain we have heard in the decades since that fateful event: Never again.

God bless President Truman

I have commented already on this blog about the significance that Aug. 6 has to the country and to me personally.

On that date in 1945, President Harry Truman issued an order that stands the test of time. He ordered a B-29 crew to take off from Tinian Island in the Pacific Ocean. It carried a single bomb.

The plane dropped that bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. The A-bomb killed about 70,000 people instantly. Three days later, another bomber would fly over Nagasaki, Japan, and would drop another bomb. It killed 50,000 people.

Five days after that, Japan surrendered. World War II had come to an end.

I long have saluted President Truman for having the courage to act as he did to bring that war to an end.

He became president after Franklin Roosevelt’s death in April 1945. World War II would rage in Europe until May 8. The Nazis surrendered as the Soviet Red Army marched into Berlin. The Japanese would continue the fight into the summer on the other side of planet. Truman knew a tiny bit about some New Mexico project that was developing a new kind of weapon. Then the Joint Chiefs briefed him, telling him, in effect, “Mr. President, we have this bomb that we believe can end this war quickly.”

My father was part of an occupation force in The Philippines that summer. He was preparing to take part in the invasion of Japan, were that operation were to commence. He had already seen plenty of combat in the Mediterranean Theater. Dad told me once he figured that more combat awaited him once the invasion of Japan commenced. He was a Navy boatswain’s mate. His shipboard duty required him to fire a deck gun in anger at enemy aircraft in the Med. More of that kind of duty likely awaited him.

But then the president ordered the dropping of those atomic bombs. The war ended quickly afterward.

I never have questioned for a moment the wisdom of President Truman’s decision or doubted the courage he demonstrated in issuing the order. Hey, I have some “skin in that game” ‚Ķ you know?

I mean, if Dad hadn’t survived, well, I wouldn’t be here today, writing this blog telling you about how grateful I am to have been given life.

I once told a veterans group in Amarillo about my personal connection to the events of Aug. 6 and 9, 1945. I told those vets, “God bless President Truman.”

They clapped and cheered.

I feel just as strongly today as I always have about the president’s decision to end that terrible conflict in the manner that he did.

Nagasaki: That bomb ended it!

The United States Army Air Force dropped a second big bomb 73 years ago today.

That one exploded over Nagasaki, Japan. The first big blast, at Hiroshima, didn’t bring Japan to the surrender table. The second one did.

The atomic age had entered the world of warfare. It was called the Manhattan Project, where some of the world’s most brilliant nuclear physicists worked to perfect the atomic bomb.

They did. It worked.

The United States had been at war with Germany, Italy and Japan for nearly four years. Germany surrendered in May 1945; Italy called it quits in 1943.

Japan was left as the remaining Axis power. President Truman, new to the office he inherited when President Roosevelt died in April 1945, had the most difficult of decisions to make: whether to use this terrible new weapon.

He went with his gut. Yes, drop the bomb and hope to save many more lives than will be lost. That calculation proved accurate, too.

Nagasaki was devastated on Aug. 9, 1945 by an even bigger bomb than the one that leveled Hiroshima three days earlier. Less than a week after Nagasaki was incinerated, the Japanese surrendered.

World War II came to an end.

President Truman said he didn’t regret deploying the bomb. Many of the great men who developed it had second thoughts. The likes of Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi and Albert Einstein eventually expressed some form of regret for their roles in developing this monstrous weapon.

We all hope never to use them again. Twice was more than enough.

I can recall a quote attributed to Einstein, who once was asked how he thought a third world war would be fought. He said, in effect, that he didn’t know with absolute certainty, but was certain that the fourth world war would be fought “with sticks and stones.”

Yes, we’ve seen ‘fire and fury,’ Mr. President

You no doubt remember when Donald John Trump threatened North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un earlier this year with “fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen.”

Kim had issued some threats to the United States. The president was having none of it. Well, the president isn’t exactly a student of history, as we know.

Seventy-three years ago today, one of Trump’s predecessors, President Harry Truman, issued the order to release a new kind of “fire and fury” on a nation with which we were at war.

A U.S. Army Air Force B-29 bomber took off on Aug. 6, 1945, from Tinian Island and headed for Hiroshima, Japan. It dropped a single bomb on Hiroshima. It killed tens of thousands of Japanese citizens in an instant. It was the first time the world saw a nuclear weapon deployed in a hostile act. It wouldn’t be the final time.

Three days later, another bomber flew over Nagasaki, Japan, and repeated the destruction.

The Japanese surrendered five days later, ending the world’s greatest, bloodiest and costliest conflict.

President Truman took office in April 1945 upon the death of President Franklin Roosevelt. The new president knew only a tiny bit of information about the Manhattan Project, where scientists were working on this terrible new weapon way out yonder in Los Alamos, N.M.

President Truman was briefed fully not long after he took office. The military brass told him, in effect, “Mr. President, we have this weapon under development that we believe will bring a quick end to the war.” The president agreed.

He would say many years later that he harbored no regret over using the atomic bomb. I have saluted President Truman many times over the years for the decision he made, based on the evidence he had at the time — and the lives he saved by persuading the enemy to surrender and allowing us to forgo an invasion of Japan by sea, air and land forces.

Fire and fury? There it was.

‘Power like the world has never seen’?

Donald J. Trump has issued the sternest of statements to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. It’s full of bluster and a bit of bravado.

It’s also frightening in the extreme — to our side as well as to the North Koreans!

The communist regime reportedly now is able to place a nuclear weapon aboard an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the United States. That’s a line that the president cannot tolerate.

So, while vacationing in New Jersey, Trump issued a direct threat to North Korea, saying that the United States is prepared to unleash “fire and fury” and a “power like the world has never seen.”

Let’s hold on. The United States once did unleash “fire and fury” on an enemy combatant state. It occurred on Aug. 6 and again on Aug. 9, 1945. We dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. World War II was drawing to a conclusion and President Truman decided he needed to deploy those weapons to persuade the Japanese that continued fighting would be futile.

Truman learned of the Hiroshima bombing while returning from the Potsdam Conference.

The strategy worked. Japan surrendered just days after Nagasaki was incinerated.

If Donald J. Trump is proposing measures that would eclipse those twin events in August 1945, then we are truly embarking down the most dangerous path anyone ever imagined.

Hiroshima debate will rage until the end of time

Seventy-two years ago today a single U.S. Army Air Force bomber dropped a single bomb on a Japanese city and ushered the nuclear age into modern warfare.

The plane was called the Enola Gay, named after the mother of the bomber’s commanding officer, Col. Paul Tibbetts. The place was Hiroshima. The atomic bomb killed many thousands of Japanese civilians — quite literally in a flash of light, heat and unimaginable concussive force.

Aug. 6, 1945 has gone down in history as arguably the most compelling moment of the 20th century. American air power would drop another atomic bomb three days later on Nagasaki, Japan. The Japanese would surrender a few days after that and World War II would come to an end.

The debate has raged for seven decades: Should we have dropped the bomb? Did we have to kill so many Japanese civilians? Would the Japanese have surrendered without having to suffer such horrific destruction?

I have some proverbial skin in that argument. A young man was stationed in The Philippines when the bombs fell on Japan. He was serving in the U.S. Navy and well could have taken part in the invasion of Japan had it occurred. We also well might have died in the effort, denying him the chance to return home and start a family that resulted in, well, yours truly being born.

Dad made it home from that terrible war, got married and produced his family. I wrote four years ago about how the Hiroshima decision remains quite personal:

https://highplainsblogger.com/2013/08/hiroshima-gets-personal-with-me/

President Harry Truman had been in office only since April 1945; he assumed the power of the presidency upon the death of President Franklin Roosevelt. He only learned about the A-bomb development after he had taken the oath.

The newly minted commander in chief was handed some information that could have shortened the war by weeks, maybe months. Yes, the option before him would cost a lot of Japanese lives and he knew that at the top. He had to make a stern choice: Do I deploy this weapon knowing the destruction it will bring to the enemy’s homeland or do I risk sending our young men into battle at the cost of many thousands of American lives?

The president knew the consequences of the choice he had to make.

In my mind — and in my heart and gut — the president made the correct call.¬†I cannot be objective or analytical about this. It’s personal, man.

God bless President Truman.

No apology coming for Pearl Harbor attack? It should

abe-obama

That settles that issue, I guess.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is coming to the United States late this month for a state visit with President Obama.

He won’t apologize for what his forebears did on Dec. 7, 1941. You see, Abe will be at the place where the United States was drawn into World War II. He’ll visit Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He’ll likely tour the USS Arizona Memorial. He’ll get to hear about the suffering brought to the men who are entombed in the shattered remains of the ship that still rest at the bottom of the harbor.

As the Associated Press reported: Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that ‘the purpose of the upcoming visit is to pay respects for the war dead and not to offer an apology.'”

Frankly, I wish he would at least offer an expression of regret.

We’ll learn in due course whether he changes his mind.

President Obama visited Hiroshima, Japan earlier this year. He didn’t apologize, either, for the atomic bomb that President Truman ordered dropped on that city. Then again, I don’t believe an apology — in that instance — was warranted. The Japanese started the fight with the sneak attack on our forces at Pearl Harbor; we finished it with the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and, three days later, on Nagasaki.

Abe’s circumstance, of course, is much different. He represents a government that in an earlier era talked to American diplomats about seeking peace while plotting an act of war.

He need not grovel. He need not beg for forgiveness. Indeed, U.S.-Japan relations are stronger than ever at this moment seven decades after¬†the two nations’ forces fought each other to the death throughout the Pacific Theater of Operations.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/japanese-leader-abe-wont-apologize-at-pearl-harbor/ar-AAl9oyg?li=BBnbfcL

He’ll emphasize the “reconciliation” that has occurred. That’s fine. We all know that it is strong.

The act of war that precipitated the era of good feelings that followed, however, ought to require a statement of contrition from the leader of the government that caused all that senseless carnage in the first place.

Japan’s PM to visit site where ‘day of infamy’ occurred

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Shinzo Abe is coming to America.

It’s no ordinary visit for a Japanese prime minister. Oh, no. He’s going to a place burned in the memories of¬†millions of¬†Americans.

Pearl Harbor awaits the visit of the first Japanese head of government since a bright sunny day in December 1941.

On Dec. 7, the United States entered World War II after its naval and air forces were attacked by Japanese bombers and fighter planes. Roughly 3,000 Americans died in that sneak attack. President Roosevelt stood before Congress the next day and declared we had been attacked “yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941, a date which will live … in infamy.”

The president ¬†sought a declaration of war; Congress gave it to him — and the world changed forever.

Prime Minister Abe is coming to Pearl Harbor to meet with President Obama.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/abe-to-make-first-pearl-harbor-visit-by-japan-leader/ar-AAl9vUm?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

This visit very well could mark a remarkable day of atonement for the Japanese government.

Abe said in a statement announcing the Dec. 26-27 visit: “I’d like to make it (meeting with Obama) an opportunity to send a message to the world that we will further strengthen and maintain our alliance towards the future,” he said. “And at the same time, I want to make it an opportunity to signal the value of Japan-US reconciliation.”

The prime minister’s wife, Akie, visited Pearl Harbor earlier this year, touring the USS Arizona Memorial, where she laid flowers and prayed.

There’s been a good bit of that sort of thing over the years as Japanese tourists¬†journey to Pearl Harbor. Aging men — many of whom fought against Americans during the war — have come to Pearl Harbor to pray and to seek forgiveness for their country’s role in initiating¬†the carnage that erupted all across the Pacific Theater after what FDR labeled a “dastardly” act.

President Obama visited Hiroshima earlier this year, speaking to the world about the dangers of nuclear weaponry. He didn’t apologize for President Truman’s decision on Aug. 6, 1945 to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Nor should he have done so.

The war ended a few days later. It’s been argued during the decades since that use of the atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki likely saved many more lives than they took. Still, the debate continues.

Now the focus turns to Prime Minister Abe’s return visit to Pearl Harbor. Does he make amends? Does he issue a formal apology to the United States for the actions of his predecessors?

My own feeling is that an apology is due. Whatever he says, though, I am certain it will be heartfelt and will, as he said, speak to the “reconciliation” that has drawn the United States and Japan closer in the years that came after that horrible “day of infamy.”

It should be a historic and profoundly meaningful visit, depending, of course, on what the prime minister tells the world.

Nuclear knowledge becomes an issue

by Snoron.com

Seventy-one years ago the United States of America set a terrible — but necessary in my view — precedent in the conduct of warfare.

A B-29 bomber crew on Aug. 6, 1945 dropped a bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. The device killed tens of thousands of Japanese civilians in instant. Another crew took off three days later and did even greater damage to the Japanese city of Nagasaki.

World War II would come to an end just a few days later.

I raise the issue today because of some remarkable things that the Republican Party nominee for president — Donald J. Trump — has said about the use of nuclear weapons.

Trump has said several astonishing things along the way to his nomination.

* He said Japan and South Korea should be allowed to develop nuclear arsenals to defend themselves against North Korea.

* Trump has said he wouldn’t object if other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, developed nukes.

*¬†He was unable to answer a question about the so-called “nuclear triad.”

*¬†Trump told a TV interviewer that he wouldn’t take the use of nukes “off the table” in the Middle East or even in Europe.

The United States built its nuclear arsenal during the 1950s and 1960s to deter the other great nuclear power — the Soviet Union — from using the weapons against us or our allies. We didn’t build the weapons to use for offensive purposes. We built them to scare the daylights out of the Soviets.

Donald Trump is campaigning for the presidency with no apparent knowledge of our nuclear weapon policy or even any knowledge of why we have the weapons in the first place.

I’m old enough to remember the famous “Daisy” ad that President Lyndon Johnson’s campaign ran a single time on TV in 1964 against Barry Goldwater. It was meant to send the message that Sen. Goldwater could not be trusted with the nation’s vast nuclear arsenal.

I don’t expect another such ad to appear this time around.

However, Trump’s astonishing lack of understanding of nuclear weapons policy should give every American serious pause as they ponder who should become the next commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military machine.

Did we make a ‘mistake’ in Hiroshima?

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I am drawn by a particular passage from remarks President Obama made while visiting Hiroshima.

“We’re not bound by genetic codes to repeat the mistakes of the past. We can learn. We can choose. We can tell our children a different story,” Obama said in remarks at the memorial that commemorates the dropping of the atomic bomb on the Japanese city on Aug. 6, 1945.

To be sure, the president did not deliver an apology for the decision one of his predecessors, Harry Truman, made in seeking an end to the bloodiest war in human history.

Nor should he.

But the statement seems to imply that the decision was a “mistake.”

I beg to differ, Mr. President. I think many of your fellow Americans beg to differ as well, particularly those of us who are descended from those who were participating in that theater of operations at the end of the war.

The president’s speech was far-reaching and it spoke to a “moral awakening” that the event brought to the world. Indeed, it did, and for that awakening we should be grateful. The world saw first hand in 1945 just destructive these weapons can be.

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/obama-hiroshima-visit-223645

President Truman, who took office upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, felt at that moment he had to make a decision that would (a) end the war quickly and (b) change the world forever.

It did both. President Truman said late in his life that he never regretted the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima and, three days later, on Nagasaki.

For me personally, he might have saved my own father’s life. Dad was in the Philippines serving in the Navy and well could have taken part in the campaign against the Japanese homeland. The bombs prevented that campaign from occurring.

Those of us who have this connection with what happened that at the end of World War II perhaps see the event with a different form of clarity than others.

I’m glad President Obama has spoken out about the need to remain alert to the tragedy of these terrible weapons.

Was its use in Japan a “mistake”?

No. It was not.