To The Daily Sun,
I read Don Ewing’s latest missive and I was inspired. Inspired, I say! Retro and revisionist history can make us all happier! September 11th no longer need be a reason to mourn. No indeedy! Instead, we can celebrate the birth of the TSA. Yes! The TSA – the Transportation Security Administration. That very organization that has held up lines at the airport, radiated our bodies, frisked our wives, mothers, and daughters, and probed our body cavities with tenacity.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled appointment with reality.
No — Don Ewing’s latest letter has me feeling ance-y. As in I can feel the ignorance, arrogance, and mental flatulance emanating from it. I don‘t know where Don has been in his life. I don’t know what he reads. But coming from my own experiences there are certain things I can tell you. I can tell you first off that he is dead wrong and the Japanese should not celebrate and neither should we. Don lacks any perspective whatsoever.
My first job in the Navy was working on Polaris ICBMs. I watched a lot of film about nuclear missiles and what they can cause. The Navy did it to ensure that we were psychologically capable of doing our job, as well as to balance it with why we do NOT want to use these weapons except as a last resort. And I just maintained those missiles. I was not the person that would have to launch them.
Secondly, while I can appreciate and understand the use and necessity for those weapons to end the war with Japan — because of the lives that could be spared — one only needs to visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki to get the true impact. The shadows of those men and women and children instantaneously incinerated are permanently marked into stone. The blindness, deafness, radiation burns, and disfigurement of those that survived the blasts. The generations of genetic damage caused by the radiation; the birth defects and medical issues that cost tens of millions of dollars to care for their next generation that never asked for what they were born with. I walked through Nagasaki, just like I visited Ground Zero in New York City. And while the devastation in Japan was 15 years before my birth, it is just as visceral as my own real memories of 9/11 and the pain, shock, and grief of it.
Americans lost about three thousand people in the 9/11 attacks. Now imagine that 9/11 happened and took out all of lower Manhattan. And then two days later they did the same in Chicago. Seventy thousand people died in Hiroshima that morning — only twenty thousand of them were military. Two thousand were Korean slave laborers. By the end of 1945 the death toll was 166,000. And five weeks after the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, a typhoon hit and killed 3,000 more and destroyed half of the remaining bridges in the city. Nagasaki lost thirty-five thousand immediately and another forty thousand by the end of the year. Only 150 soldiers died there. Nagasaki was not even the primary target that day, but the original target was too obscured by smoke and clouds from bombings the day before to see it clearly. Luckily for them, their own geography prevented far more deaths. President Truman even had another bomb in reserve and ready for another detonation 10 days later, as well as ones on order for September and October, so Don’s estimation as to Allied casualties of an invasion of the Japanese homeland is pure speculation since there would have been no need. And yet somehow — still — I don’t see them saying “Thank God for the bombs, or it could have been worse!”
Today Japan is indeed a different society from pre-WW2. They are peaceful. They loathe atomic weapons. Nuclear powered vessels are forbidden from docking at their ports or bases. You see the impact of nucleomituphobia (fear of nuclear weapons) in their classic movies like "Godzilla," "Mothra" and "Rodan." Their samurai culture is mostly gone, as is bushido – The Way of the Warrior. We rebuilt them to look like us — mechanized and industrialized, complete with a brand new Constitution.
War is indeed hell. We made Dresden Germany look like it, and we did the same in Japan. We made them pay for killing our sons and sinking our ships and breaking our trust. And they paid dearly. Today we perch on the precipice of yet another hellish descent with North Korea, just as we teetered with the Soviet Union for so many years when we lived with M.A.D. — Mutually Assured Destruction. MAD because it is crazy. And crazy to think anyone should be grateful. But Don shows the same blissful ignorance of war, weapons, and their impact as the president. “Fire and fury”, indeed. And THAT, my friends, is even scarier.