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Monday, March 31, 2014

A Humbling Account of WWII

Over the weekend, my aunt shared with my cousin who in turn shared with me an account of WWII that was recently declassified which had a direct impact of my existence.  You see, my father, along with his twin brother, was in the Pacific on the USS Fall River, a heavy class cruiser.  He would speak very little of the war.  I knew that he manned the guns on the ship and that his ship never saw any real action.  At least that's what he told me whenever I asked.  

When the war broke out, he left high school and enlisted in the Navy.  He actually came back after the war and graduated from high school.  What I learned this weekend was that if Truman hadn't authorized the use of the atomic bomb on Japan, an elaborate all out attack on Japan had been planned.  The Army, the Army Air Force, the Navy and the Marines would attack Japan in two separate but coordinated invasions.  The casualties were estimated to be over 250,000 Americans and close to a million when you included the Japanese.  

It was later learned that Japan, in addition to planes, ships and submarines, had planned to use thousands of suicide bombers, suicide divers and suicide swimmers to attack ships in waves throughout the Pacific.  But because of Japan's unconditional surrender after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the invasions and attacks weren't necessary.  

We talk of the dropping of the atomic bomb as ending the war in the Pacific theater sooner, but we don't think of the lives that were spared as a result.  I know that many question to use the atomic bomb to this day, but I wonder if knowing that millions upon millions of us Baby Boomers, as well as Generation Xers and Millennials wouldn't be here today, would change some minds?  

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