Monday, August 6, 2007

Hiroshima Day, Then and Now

Today is August 6th, 2007.

It is 62 years to the day after the atomic strike on Hiroshima.

Followed three days later by another atomic strike on Nagasaki, and coupled with the entrance of the Soviet Union into the war against Japan, the atomic bombings of Japan brought World War II to an end. On August 15th, Japan indicated its willingness to surrender, and shortly thereafter, World War II, perhaps the worst war in history, ended with the signing of the instrument of surrender on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

On the anniversary of these days, and of Hiroshima in particular, people love to hate the United States for incinerating Japanese civilians.

People often fail to recall certain minor details of that time frame. I will go over a few of them here, without providing links like I normally do; go to Wikipedia and other sites, look these things up, and learn about them, if you don't know. If you find a mistake in my view of history, leave a comment for everyone to see.

The history of Japanese imperialism in Asia was brutal. The Japanese Army behaved so outrageously in Nanking (now spelled Nanjing) that its operation there in 1936 was known simply as the Rape of Nanking.

In 1941, Japan was negotiating with the United States. As late as December, 1941, Japanese diplomats in Washington were holding out hopes of peace. Meanwhile, a Japanese carrier strike group, with supporting ships, was already en route to Pearl Harbor. It took more than a couple of days to cross the Pacific from Japan to Hawaii; other naval units were spreading out throughout the Pacific Ocean, preparing for strikes on Midway, Wake Island, the Philippines, and myriad other places. So, while Japanese diplomats were discussing the possibilities of peace, a complex, intricate plan for war was already being executed.

The first Japanese planes appeared in the skies over Pearl Harbor a little before 8:00 AM local time on Sunday, December 7th, 1941. During the attack, many US warships, mainly the battleships, were sunk or very badly damaged. Military personnel, not just at Pearl Harbor but throughout the Pacific, fought back as they could.

Crewmembers of those ships at Pearl Harbor who managed to escape the destruction often found themselves swimming in burning fuel in the harbor. Many crew members were unable to escape; locking themselves in watertight compartments (initially part of an effort to keep the ships afloat by maximizing the "bubbles" of air inside, among other things) they couldn't get out when the ships suddenly sank. After the ships sank, the men, knowing they were under water, kept tapping on the side of the ships, hoping the noise they made would alert rescuers to their situation. Some of those men were successfully rescued during the following days; for others, their tapping just finally stopped.

After the Japanese victory in the Philippines, the American and Filipino troops who surrendered at Bataan were marched off as prisoners of war. With no food, no water, they were forced to march for extended periods of time without any break at all. When men tried to relieve themselves on the side of the road, they were bayoneted in the buttocks.

Prisoners of war were often transported in the cargo holds of ships, moving in these giant metal boxes for days on end from one place to another, baking in the hot tropical sun, and given essentially no food or water during the voyage. I won't describe what thirst occasionally drove them to do, but it's far worse than you think.

Prisoners of war were also the guinea pigs for bizarre medical experiments.

(And don't think for a moment the Mujahideen behave any better.)

In August, 1945, the Japanese military had two million men under arms in the Japanese islands, and another two million on the Asian continent. They were expected to fight to the death, as was Japan herself; Japanese civilians were expected to charge Allied landings with bamboo spears.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki gave the Emperor a compelling reason, and perhaps an excuse, to intervene in the way the war was being run, and for Japan to surrender. The bombings, in the wake of other devastation suffered from the air, such as the fire bombings, added to the ongoing blockade and frequent naval bombardment, and in view of anticipated Allied landings (Operations Coronet and Olympic), made it clear to the Japanase that Japan could very well be destroyed.

Ironically, by compelling a surrender, those bombings saved the lives of millions of Japanese military personnel and civilians, and of untold thousands of Allied military personnel; those bombings saved Japan.

This is not the history that is taught in our nation's politicized government-run school system; this is the truth.

And, while it is history to most of my readers, it is a little more than history to me; I knew more than a few people who witnessed some of these events first hand, from Pearl Harbor on.

If the Mujahideen hit us with nuclear weapons, they will probably justify their acts with references to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But, they won't tell you the rest of the story. That's how their dysfunctional ideology works; facts, too, must submit to hatred.

I do feel bad for all the people who suffered in World War II, but given the situation we were facing, it could have been worse -- a hell of a lot worse.

Enjoy your freedom. It was paid for, time and again.

And don't be the least bit sorry about being an American.

America has her faults, but she's worth loving, she's worth fighting for, and she's worth dying for.

And, if you see a veteran of military service, thank that person for his or her contribution.

God bless America, the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave!

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