Dedication: The republication of this evolving tribute is respectfully dedicated to America’s veterans and active duty military and their families with thanks and gratitude for their service and sacrifice.
It is a sad fact of life that the politicians, and those in power, start wars and that the people of the nations involved bleed, die, suffer, and otherwise pay the price of war. Even in today’s world of terrorist attacks, as the people of countries or ideologies make war on each other they fall into two general categories, “Military” and “Civilian.” The Military or the fighters, generally kill each other and the civilians they believe are making war on them the old fashioned way, directly, with bullets, bombs, suicide or otherwise, terrorism, planes, etc. History testifies to the fact that they, and the civilians their actions impact on, are generally the first to bleed, suffer, and die.
The Civilians of warring nations provide the means for the military to kill each other and the bodies to replace those who are killed or maimed. History records that the bullets, bombs, torpedoes, planes, ships and other implements of war used by Japan to destroy the peace at Pearl Harbor and during the war in the Pacific, as well as those used by America to reestablish that peace, were made by civilians.
Prior to December 7, 1941 there was peace between the United States and Japan. At approximately 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, on Sunday, December 7, 1941, while Japanese diplomats were in the process of negotiating to maintain that peace with Secretary of State Cordell Hull in Washington, DC, and without warning, the country of Japan shattered that peace by spilling American blood in a cowardly surprise attack on the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. The attack killed over 2,400 and wounded over 1,175. On Monday December 8, 1941 President Roosevelt went before Congress and declared December 7, 1941 as, “A date that will live in infamy.” Congress declared war against Japan on that date.
Upon the death of President Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, over three years and 200,000 American lives later, Harry S. Truman, became the 33rd President of the United States. He was a Missourian known for his honesty and one of the most respected politicians of his time. The war in Europe was over and the Axis Powers of Italy and Germany had been defeated. All that remained between war and peace was the fanatical and kamikaze like resistance of the Japanese people and their army of over 2,500,000. In spite of the repeated warnings to surrender and that the alternative “was complete and utter destruction,” Japan refused to surrender and continued to fight.
Truman had served as an Artillery Officer in France during World War I and, prior to becoming President, was not aware of the “Manhattan Project” and its Atom Bomb. His advisors estimated the war could be shortened by a year and that 1 million Allied casualties, 500,000 of them American lives, could be saved if the Atomic Bomb was used on Japan. He decided that enough American blood had been spilled in trying to reestablish the peace that Japan had shattered. Truman said, “Let there be no mistake about it, I regarded the bomb as a military weapon and never had any doubt that it should be used.”
At approximately 9:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, after repeated warnings for Japan to surrender, the Atomic Bomb was dropped from the “Enola Gay” on Hiroshima. In spite of the horrific carnage and destruction that resulted Japan did not capitulate. On August 9, 1945, another Atomic Bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Japan sued for peace the next day and the formal surrender papers were signed, on the deck of the Battleship U.S.S. Missouri, on September 2, 1945. Peace had been restored.
Some say America owes Japan an apology for using the Atomic Bomb. The lives sacrificed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved many times the lives, Japanese, American, as well as others, that would have been spent if the war had continued. Without Pearl Harbor and the refusal of Japan to end the war that they had started, not only would there have been no Hiroshima or Nagasaki, but millions of people, Japanese as well as others, would not have died. If the people of Japan are due an apology it more appropriately should come from their own government.
Some say that Japan owes us an apology for Pearl Harbor. No apology can undo history, the treacherous cowardice of that attack, or bring back the lives that were lost. Rather than seek useless insincere apologies let us thank God that the nuclear power used to end a terrible war, has never been used in war since. At the end of the day, the blood of her sons, and ours, staining the sands of remote Pacific Islands such as Peleliu, Okinawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and others, solemnly testify to the futility of such an apology.