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This might be one of several things you'll see today on Pearl Harbor.  If you're looking for a syrupy retrospective, stop reading now.

My Dad fought in the Marine Corps during WWII, winning invasion stars in Tarawa and Iwo Jima.  He never talked about it.  When sympathetic retrospectives of Hiroshima/Nagasaki came out in the 70's/80's, his face would harden in a way that was frightening.  At the time I didn't get it, and marked it up to redneck shallowness.  It is difficult for me to appreciate the kill or be killed ruthlessness his generation endured. Oral histories like the following can only hint as to what it was like.

First, the good news.  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was an unmitigated failure.  Of all the ships damaged during the attack, only three were total losses; The Arizona and Utah remained where they sank, and the Oklahoma floundered being towed to the West Coast after re-floating.  All the other ships damaged in the attack were repaired and returned to active service within a 18 months.

Sinking Ships in the open sea is much more effective (i.e Midway) than in a sheltered port.

Adding irony to the failure is that the Japanese attack flew over an undefended target that, had it been destroyed, would have crippled the US Navy in port - the Pacific Fleet Oil Storage facility.  A half-dozen conventional bombs would have stranded the Navy in port for at least six months.  (Imagine the course of the war without the battle of Coral Sea or Midway.)

Many retrospectives look at WWII as the "Good War", with none of the futile barbarity of recent conflicts.  Most of this is due to the censorship which existed at the time.  In fact, the censorship and PR management of today's war is a pale imitation of Government control exercised over the media during WWII

War has always been a terrible business.  And death in a metal can has a unique horror.  Imagine for a moment how Fox or CNN would have covered the following (from a survivor's oral history):

 When her fires were extinguished late Monday Dec. 8, Guards were posted on the shoreline of Ford Island, next to "Battleship Row".  Jittery over rumors of invasion, Sentries at first didn't hear the noise.  USS West Virginia Marine Bugler Dick Fiske recalls: "When it was quiet you could hear it coming from inside the capsized ships... bang, bang, then stop.  Then bang, bang, pause.  At first I thought it was a loose piece of rigging slapping against the hull".  Then I realized men were making that sound - taking turns making noise.  After that night, no one wanted guard duty, but someone had to do it.  Bang, bang.  It went on for 16 days, slowing in frequency until Christmas Eve.  Then silence."

Several MPs patrolling the area were hospitalized with nervous breakdowns listening to the constant banging of trapped survivors.  The Navy issued earplugs to help them cope.  Continuing:

"The adjacent Oklahoma was upside down, and holes were drilled in her bottom to allow a precious few to escape their coffin.  The pressure of water inside the hull, pushing up on air pockets, meant as soon as the hull was breached little time was left before remaining air escaped.  Shipmates often drowned in front of rescuers eyes before a hole could be made large enough for escape.  Cutting torches ignited trapped gasses (Methane from decomposing bodies) and exploded, killing more. Jack-hammers jammed and men drowned while looking at a small hole of light. Knowledgeable workers quickly learned to 'rip open' hull plates fast to insure victims survival.  A macabre Naval "C-section", with the same purpose."

Heart-wrenching to think that a sizable fraction of casualties from Pearl Harbor didn't die on Dec. 7th, but several days after the attack.

But the worst wasn't seen till months later.

Late Spring 1942 found Navy salvage teams finally getting to work on the West Virginia.  An inventive series of tremic (underwater concrete) patches were fitted to her port side, and enough water pumped out to partially float the once grand ship. BB48 was nudged across the Harbor into dry-dock and the grim task of finding bodies began.

For Commander Paul Dice, compartment A-111 was expected to be like the rest: Put on gas masks, place some goo into a body bag and let the Medical boys worry about identification.  They had seen it all, but this compartment was different.  Dice first noticed the interior was dry and flashlight batteries and empty ration cans littered the floor.  A manhole cover to a fresh water supply was opened.  Then he saw the calendar.  It was 12"x14" and marked with big red Xs that ended December 23.  Hardened salvage workers wept uncontrollably as they realized the fate of these men.  Word quickly spread among salvage crews: Three men had lived for 16 days to suffer the most agonizing deaths among the 2800 victims at Pearl Harbor.

The Navy told their Parents they were killed in the attack on the 7th.

The War Department casualty figures from Pearl Harbor never included civilian deaths.  Read another eyewitness history here.

May they Rest In Peace.

Originally posted to railsplitter on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 04:42 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.


If you lived through WWII, would you've approved of Atomic bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki?

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Comment Preferences

  •  my father-in-law... (24+ / 0-)

    served in europe and didn't have enough points to go home. he knew he was destined to go to the asian theater. he's always said that the bomb was harry's birthday present to him. i can not imagine what hell he went through as well as the hell your father went through. may they have peace and comfort in their days left.
    tung sol

    There is a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.--Oscar Levant

    by tung sol on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 05:30:24 AM PST

    •  One eyewitness told his story to me... (7+ / 0-)

      "It was a Sunday. We were getting ready for church. There were planes flying low overhead, and I looked outside and looked up and saw the rising sun on the planes. I heard explosions, and said, 'you damned Japs.' We were at war."

      By the time that war was over, that Honolulu teenager would have volunteered to serve his country and ended up losing his arm in one of the final battles of the War. Decades later, he would receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery.

      He now serves his nation as Hawaii's Senior Senator, Daniel Inouye. He is a proud American, and proud of his heritage, and yet his first words upon realizing Hawaii was under attack were "you damned Japs."

      I will never understand war, nor will I understand what it does to people.

      •  I wrote my doctoral diss (0+ / 0-)

        on the visual remembering of Pearl Harbor. (UH-Manoa, 2004).

        So much was hidden, censored and not talked about in WWII, it is hard to separate the reality from the artifacts.

        The local WWII museum has a 'Stage canteen' with a singing group called the 'Victory Belles.'  They pretend that mixed race groups were permitted.

        The mythology built around the attack is deeply religious, hierarchical and helped make redemptive violence American foreign policy.

        The attack failed because the primary target - aircraft carriers - were out to sea.  The destruction of the battleship fleet allowed the new carriers to become the main warfighting platform, leading to victory at Midway and Coral Sea.

        Director John Ford's Catholic immigrant viewpoint became the visual common memory of America.

        The Disney film was an attempt to recreate the attack as a religious American martyrdom a la John Ford.  That's (in part) why it was such a bad film.

        The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage laborers. - The Communist Manifesto

        by nolagrl on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 09:48:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would posit that Frank Capra's viewpoint... (0+ / 0-)

          ...of the prelude to war, as well as the attack, which were incorporated into his "Why We Fight" series, became the visual common memory of those who lived through the war.

          Those of us born after the war have been more influenced by John Ford and others.

          Our parents and grandparents saw it more through Capra's eyes, in my humble opinion.

  •  There is no here, here (24+ / 0-)
    Read another eyewitness history here.
    Another perspective from a woman's point of view
    Hono­lulu after Pearl Harbor: A report published for the first time, 71 years later
    By Elizabeth P. McIntosh

    On Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor, I was working as a reporter for the Hono­lulu Star-Bulletin. After a week of war, I wrote a story directed at Hawaii’s women; I thought it would be useful for them to know what I had seen. It might help prepare them for what lay ahead. But my editors thought the graphic content would be too upsetting for readers and decided not to run my article. It appears here for the first time.

    For seven ghastly, confused days, we have been at war. To the women of Hawaii, it has meant a total disruption of home life, a sudden acclimation to blackout nights, terrifying rumors, fear of the unknown as planes drone overhead and lorries shriek through the streets.

    The seven days may stretch to seven years, and the women of Hawaii will have to accept a new routine of living. It is time, now, after the initial confusion and terror have subsided, to sum up the events of the past week, to make plans for the future.

    It would be well, perhaps, to review the events of the past seven days and not minimize the horror, to better prepare for what may come again.

    White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

    by BOHICA on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 05:31:20 AM PST

  •  I have never heard the story of the trapped men. (16+ / 0-)

    That is just horrifying!  I had an uncle who was in the Navy during WWII.  He was at sea during the attack.  I think I heard his ship was headed back to Pearl on December 7, but I'm not sure.

    I had a dear friend who was career military who would always write December 7, 1941 on his forms and checks and such when the anniversary occurred.  He'd do the same for the anniversary of DDay.  I think he got away with it.  Sadly, none of the service and women ever remarked on it.

    One small quibble:  Ships founder, not flounder.  Excellent diary even with a very minor riffle.

    •  the carriers were at sea (10+ / 0-)

      Perhaps he was with them. Due to concerns that the Japanese were about to make a move on the Dutch East Indies, they were delivering planes to islands bases further west. Midway may have been one of them, i think. Huge disappointment for the Japanese that they weren't caught in port, i'm sure.

      Walter Lord's Day of Infamy describes the efforts to cut free the trapped survivors. Along with a lot of other stuff i had no idea about. Highly recommended book. I have a 1st edition which includes endpaper maps of both the island and the Pearl Harbor itself, showing the positions of the ships. Very helpful in following the narrative.

      All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

      by subtropolis on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:25:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wish I could ask my uncle (3+ / 0-)

        but he's deceased as is my mother.  My cousin might know ir one of their surviving sisters

        My uncle was in the Navy for at least 10 or 15 years.  He really did join the Navy to see the world.  My mom had matchboxes (wooden ones!), postcards and coins from all over the world that her older brother sent her.  My sister found them after mom died and has  them for safekeeping.  Another one of her brothers was in the Army Air Force in the Pacific theater.  His footlocker served as my coffee table when I was in college.

    •  Pearl Harbor (5+ / 0-)

      The movie released some time ago had a short bit of film showing the trapped men drowning while attempts to rescue were going on.  A rather disturbing bit of film if one gets empathic with film characters.  Part of the problem was that the stuff to cut metal at the time was not as strong as now and simply there was not enough tools to go around.  

      Another thing not mentioned in histories is the damage that falling anti aircraft shells and other munitions did to the surrounding city of Oahu while the fighting was going on.  

      Two quotes I wish to live by "Strength and Honor" (Gladiator) and "Do or Do Not, There is no Try" (SW-ESB).

      by SQD35R on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 12:46:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  These Flounder. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      I would never belong to a club that would have me as a member--Groucho Marx.

      by DaveS002 on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 04:18:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Standing at the beginning and the end (29+ / 0-)

    These pictures were taken in Pearl Harbor. In the first picture you're standing on the deck of the Missouri battleship.. That white structure is the Arizona Memorial.

    In the 2d picture, you see the plaque on the deck of the MO, the exact spot where the peace treaty was signed while the Mo was anchored in Tokyo Bay.
    So when youre standing right at this place, youre in the exact spot where WWII both started and ended for the USA. I can't think of another place or war where you can do that.
    Rest in Peace guys. See you on the other side.

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:02:39 AM PST

  •  My uncle served in the Pacific in WWII (14+ / 0-)

    He was in the Marines. Never once did I hear him talk about it, but he was adamantly against my even considering serving myself. I didn't understand then, but I do now.

    Filibuster reform now. No more Gentleman's agreements.

    by bear83 on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:34:31 AM PST

    •  Likewise my dad (0+ / 0-)

      was violently opposed to me joining the Marine Corps.  Like most dumb kids, I did anyway...

      "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed." - A Lincoln

      by railsplitter on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:59:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this diary (11+ / 0-)

    There is no good war IMO.  

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 07:45:47 AM PST

    •  Sometimes necessary. Sometimes forced. Never, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ever good.

      That crap is for home consumption and sanitizing. Sanitizing is unfortunate and, I think, long term counterproductive. To some considerable degree I think sanitizing WW II and the natural desire to shield families and friends from shock and horror by combat veterans led to public support for wars not necessary nor forced.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:28:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Every war ended over a negotiating table (0+ / 0-)

        and I personally think the MIC is looking for not only money in the wars but the perfect war to prove we are oh so fierce and patriotic.   All we do is hurt our people with war.   We hurt all people with war.  IT will never end.   Ever.

        We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

        by Vetwife on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 10:05:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  my opinion (0+ / 0-)

        Saving Private Ryan (first 20 minutes) and to a point Black Hawk Down both were not very sanitized (although BHD may have been bordering on gratudious).  

        I read some survivors of D-Day state that the only thing missing from SPR's beach assault was the smell of smoke, blood, and death.  

        Sad thing is that with so much other violance on "entertainment" movies that the reality of the horror that those in combat suffer is lost.  

        Two quotes I wish to live by "Strength and Honor" (Gladiator) and "Do or Do Not, There is no Try" (SW-ESB).

        by SQD35R on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 03:49:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  One memory I've always found haunting... (8+ / 0-)

    My mother was a senior in high school then.  When she showed up for school the day after the attack, all the boys in her class were gone.  They'd all gone to enlist.  

    I can't imagine what it would take to make that happen today.  9/11 sure didn't do it.  

  •  My dad... (10+ / 0-)

    ...was making P-51s at North American. They wouldn't let him enlist when they discovered where he worked.

    Only the weak & defeated are called to account for their crimes.

    by rreabold on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 08:45:11 AM PST

  •  Like most baby boomers... (12+ / 0-)

    My grandfathers were WWI vets, my dad and uncles WWII vets, and my husband a Vietnam War vet.

    No matter what, war is horrible,

    And the fate of those trapped at Pearl Harbor is among the worst.

    Whenever I hear of the last survivors who were on shore leave being interred in one of those ships to rest forever with their comrades, it makes me cry.

    It is important that we never forget.

  •  My uncle Frank (11+ / 0-)

    the kindest man in the world, who spent the war in the South Pacific, would get the same look that your dad did.

    It said a lot

  •  Untold History of the United States - Oliver Stone (10+ / 0-)

    It's a Showtime miniseries/documentary. I highly recommend it.

    I am now convinced that no only was using the bomb on Japan unnecessary, but that much of the top brass in the US military thought so at the time. Plus, I am left convinced by his argument that Japan had been bombed so devastatingly already that whether it was one bomb or 5000 bombs wasn't a factor in their surrender. Stone makes a convincing case that it was the Aug. 9th entry of the Soviets into the war against Japan (in Manchuria) that was the final blow.

    Many people, including myself, have taken the idea seriously, that 'we had to drop the bomb to save hundreds of thousands of American lives in an invasion.' This was not believed in August 1945. It shouldn't be believed now.

    Watch it if you get Showtime, or Showtime Anytime.

    •  her is a better link (5+ / 0-)

      from the Showtime site itself.

      Honestly I let it sit in my DVR queue for a while. I was suspicious since it had the name 'Oliver Stone' attached to it.

      I was wrong. He has reclaimed his spot in my mental 'esteemed closet'.

      I'm glad someone posted a December 7th diary, thanks for that.

    •  I'm sorry, I disagree. (18+ / 0-)

      Given the Japanese mindset, without the Atomic bombs, Japan would not have surrended until at least Operation Typhoon, when the US would land on Kyushu in an invasion that would dwarf Overlord.

      YEs, even if Russia overran Manchuria and Korea (like they were doing when Japan surrendered in August aftre the A bombs), Japan itself would have held on after that. Hirohito was only able to overrule the Arny (which wanted to fight on even after the A Bombs), by asking what the point was in resistance, since the US could destroy a city at a time with a single bomb, any time they wished.

      By November, 15 million Japanese civilians would have starved to death..  The A-Bombs killed just under 400,000.  Both ideas are horrible humanitarian crises.  I know which one is more terrible, though.

      We have no desire to offend you -- unless you are a twit!

      by ScrewySquirrel on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:11:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  both arguments have merit (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Quicklund, Judge Moonbox

        Also, there was the issue of allowing the Soviets see what had joined the US arsenal.

        All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

        by subtropolis on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:34:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Japanese mindset seemed to be (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        winsock, FloraLine, jm214, jakedog42, techno, kurt

        they would surrender if they could keep the Emperor. And this was well before August. And it is documented.

        I've become convinced facts indicate they saw the Soviets would soon be entering Japan and occupying part of Japan. The Japanese realized it would be better to take their chances with the US. An invasion meant the end of the Emperor system anyway. They didn't want Soviet occupation of half their country too. It wasn't the bomb.

        And in the end they kept the Emperor. They would have accepted those terms earlier, according to the thinking, in the US, at the time.

        We used the bombs deliberately and for a reason. But not to defeat the Japanese. They were defeated. They just had not surrendered. There seems to be plenty of evidence that at the time there was quite a bit of discussion within our military about this, and evidence that a fair amount of revisionism happened during the cold war and we have forgotten it.

        I understand your argument. I'm not saying Truman was just sending a message to the Soviets by dropping the bombs, he said he did it to shorten the war, so be it. Whether that is militarily accurate is the question.

        Check out the series when it comes on DVD. It exceeded my expectations.

        •  The Soviets has no Pacific sealift (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brian1066, Munchkn, pelagicray

          A Soviet invasion on the Japanese home islands would be an impossibility. They did not have the ships and supply structure to do anything of the sort. This would have been obvious to Japanese commanders. The premise is implausible.

          •  Stalin had plans to invade Hokkaido (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I've seen this in other sources too.

            It makes sense really. They were defeated and would surrender if the could retain the Emperor, who was a religious figure. The Japanese preferred to deal with the US. Would you rather deal with Truman, or shall we wait for Stalin to arrive? They dealt with Truman and the Emperor was spared.

            •  Soviet entry had an effect (0+ / 0-)

              Of course it did. But it is fanciful to think the USSR could mount an invasion of Japan before the US-led invasion landed, or that the Soviets could mount a sealift force 1/100th of the US/Brits/Dutch/ANZAC.

              The Japanese were defeated long before the Soviet entry. They fought on well past any hope for victory, as did Germany. Reason had left the arena years before. The allies were not out to reason with the Axis, they were out to force the Axis to surrender. If that meant dropping atomic bombs, so be it.

              Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not even close to the worst episodes in that war. They the deadliest events in WW2 by a long shot. Millions of victims suffered worse fates than the bombing victims. This revisionist history stuff rings hollow.

      •  "15 million civilians would have starved" (5+ / 0-)

        is exactly the right answer to objections that are aimed to second-guess Harry S. Truman.

        Also, keep in mind that Japanese children would have been among the first to go.

        When Dewey ran against Truman, he had the good sense not to mention the bomb as an issue. Nobody would have done differently, not in 1945.

      •  The atomic bomb hastened the wars end (9+ / 0-)

        And by doing so saved not only an indeterminable amount of American lives but also many times over that amount of lives of Chinese, phillippinos, Burmese, Vietnamese, Koreans and evry other land unfortunate to be under the japanese iron rule. And, incidently countless Japanese lives as well.
        Because the Japanese were every bit as barbarous and atavistic as their allies the Nazis.  people who say we shold have blockaded them don't understand that the Japanese had millions of men under arms in many places but most especially China which they were able to dominate militarily throught the war. They were running military offensives in China right up to the day they signed th papers on the Mo.

        What changed that round was the Russians entering the war against the Japanese right at the end. You understand that? the Japanese and Stalin had a nonaggression pact throughout the war intill Stalin chucked it at the end to get Manchuria and korea. they were planning to invade Hokkaido---Stalin was trying to grab as much as he could---but the USA said NO WAY!!. Say thank you, Japan, you might have wound up split like Germany but for the USA standing up for you.
        And then forcing a democratic government on you inluding rights for women our country didn't have and then defending you against China for all those years. And they want to call us the bad guys. .

        Whose who wish to say the japanese were on their knees surrendeing need to understand that they, like the Nazis they emulated, were starving, massacring and enslaving all those in the countries they invaded----millions aand millions and millions.Chinese, Vietnamese, Burmese, Malaysians, Phillippinos---in every country they conquered they treated them with the same barbarity the Nazis did in Russia.
        There were a million POWS the Japanese were holding in the worst of conditions----The British (100K taken in Singapore alone) and Americans had it better than most others, bad as they were treated.
        Cities like Nanking were being raped and looted--400,000 murdered say the Chinese, 250 K say the Japanese. Either way its a huge number, which the Japanese never aplogized for..
        THIS WAS GOING ON THE DAY THEY DROPPED THE SECOND BOMB!!!! And would have kept going on all through a blockade (there already was a blockade, an effective one)

        The war had to end the quickest way to save the most lives and the atomic bombs brought it to a screeching halt. Just burning the cities to the gournd wasn't enough,thats what they were doing already. More people died in the Tokyo fires done with conventional incindiaries than with BOTH atomic bombs. Thats what wold have continued without the bombs. The a-bombs actually saved Jaapanese lives, lots of them.
        What the atomic bombs did was shock the emperor into some sense to where he directed the forces to seek peace. There were still many---most---in power who would have kept prosecuting the war but for that.

        They brought the war to a screeching halt, which saved everybody's livess. Nothing else would have done that.


        Happy just to be alive

        by exlrrp on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 04:19:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  As people above have said, there's opinions on (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          both sides.

          From what I have read of history, and of the commentary from partisans of the US's Cold War approach to everything, and those who are more skeptical, I have to side with those who say the Bomb was an unnecessary murderous fillip, a gesture toward "containment" of the post-war Commie Menace, and your recitation of the role and power of the Emperor does not agree with what I have understood to be the case. My read is that indeed the Japanese brass had lost their shine, that people were ready for surrender, and that all that was really needed (the thing that 'we" were ready to grant anyway, since not to do so would have made occupation a lot harder) was recognize the Emperor as the head of state and guarantee his continuing in place.

          Does not matter. Dulles and Gen. Grove and the rest were set on using the toys they had spent so much money and effort and career points to create. We were set by our leaders on the course we followed, all the undercutting of democratic and nationalist aspirations all over the planet, all the support of the corporatization of everything, all these what, 18,000 nuclear warheads, thousands of which are on MIRVed missiles that are still, STILL, on hair trigger in Russia, etc, and our own City on the Hill and our subs and ships and various bombers and silo'd missiles.

          It is not unpatriotic, whatever that means, to question the BS that has been created and shoveled out by our propaganda organs and sectarian groupies. I was just an enlistee who sort of believed all that stuff about Commie Yellow Peril dudes assaulting the beaches of Santa Barbara if we weren't to kill them first, a regular-army GI, but the Vietnam thing was a complete clusterf__, a fraud from the git-go, and the world is a lot more complicated place with levels of dishonesty that go miles deep all planned to keep us ordinary people, with our loyalty to where we were born, who generate all the wealth that the f__head Brass and politicos and C-suite-ers get to live high off of, from seeing what has been and is being done to us, to steal decent lives from us, to get us to kill people who pose no threat to us (until we invade THEIR country and start kicking ass and taking names in the name of some undefined and undefinable "mission."

          One observation is that people who have done something really awful to someone else, something beyond the pale, as it were, have this neat mental trick of blaming the dead for their own deaths. And of course in this case satisfying consciences that the Bombs "saved American lives," and a more subtle argument, "saved Japanese lives." How that jibes with US Superfortress plain-old-HE-and-incendiary attacks on practically defenseless Japanese cities, killing a million or so, is up to our own belief systems, I guess.

          And besides, as my old man, who skippered a wooden sub chaser in the S. Pacific through the war said, "the damn Japs had it coming to them. They started it." Even those little kids and women. At least the chain of causation in that logic is clearer than the BS used to sucker us into invading Iraq and then Notagainistan. And Vietnam before that. And Iran? Have to nuke them FIRST, before they do it to us? And think of all the American lives saved, if we glassify that arab rat's nest NOW, instead of waiting until they have a nuke. (And how about them Israelis, with their 400-odd nukes? Who are proving such a clear, trustworthy ally in that part of the world?)

          "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

          by jm214 on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:56:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It saved more than Americand and Japanese lives (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hoghead99, pelagicray, swampyankee

            FORGET how many American lives it seaved and concentrate on how many Chinese, Vietnamese, Burmese and Phillippino lives were saved by the war coming to s speedy conclusion.  
            The Japanese, in their barbarity were slaughtering Chinese as bad as Hitler ever did to thr Russians. Estimates range from 15 to 25 million!! One million Vietnamese starved to death the last year of the war because the Japanese were stealing their food. THIS WAS GOING ON THE DAY THEY SIGNED THE PEACE TREATY!!
             One million Philliuppino people died the last year of the war due to Japanese barbarities, many of them slaughtered  gratuitously in the battle for MAnila. the list goes on and on andon and on!
            Max Hastings in Retribution estimates that as many as 250,000 people were dying per month were dying from Japanese barabrities in the lan ds they held.
            The bombs saved ALL  their lives, but not being Japanese,  they probably don't count to you.

            and people like you say this should have gone right on happening. As it would hve if the bombs hadn't dropped.
            Look at the complete destruction of Germany in the end from having the war fought to the end  on its soil. thats what  would have happened to Japan, had not the bombs brought an end to the war.

            the role of the emperor was NOT the only sticking point, to the very end the japanese were claiming hegemony over Mnchuria and korea. this would have been like Hitler suing for peace but demanding to keep Poland and france----completely lalaland---never would have happened.
            the Japanese should thank the americans (and the rest of the world) for ending their barbaric, brutal,Fascist government and imposing Democracy on them---it never would have come from inside.

            Happy just to be alive

            by exlrrp on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 04:43:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  "Even those little kids and women" (0+ / 0-)

              If Japanese kids and women had to die to save 50 times that many Chinese, Burmese, Phillippino Vietnamese little kids and women's  lives then it was a good deal for humanity

              Happy just to be alive

              by exlrrp on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:00:50 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  And remember, on the night of 14/15 August (0+ / 0-)

              there was an attempted coup against the Emperor to prevent surrender. That mad dog, just like the one in Berlin, was dead on its side at the end but still capable of deadly bites. One difference? The one in Japan did not have a land route into its heart to finish it by conventional and still very costly (to both allied military and the civilians) means.

              The revisionist history being cited that the bombs were completely unnecessary has some interesting points while being exactly that, "revisionist" history with damn little contemporary context. By that standard we could probably have prevented WW II entirely by revising some actions in the preceding decade.

              The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

              by pelagicray on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:41:02 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  I've seen the Showtime episode (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      the fan man

      on the bombing of Hiroshima.  I don't buy Stone's premise that it was unnecessary.  The Military Junta running Japan at the end of the war was more than ready to immolate the entire nation rather than accept defeat.  For an alternate view, read the Pulitzer Prize winning book Embracing Defeat by John Dower.

      "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed." - A Lincoln

      by railsplitter on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 12:08:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We were conducting very deadly firebombing (0+ / 0-)

        night raids over Japanese cities, dropping many times the gross explosive weight of the atomic bombs. Japan's gov't was still quite willing to fight to the last man. It was the singularity of the atomic explosions, that so much damage could be wrought at once, with the expectation that many more would follow that caused the Japanese surrender. Period.

        Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

        by the fan man on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 06:41:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My father served in Africa and Italy (8+ / 0-)

    And would never talk about it. All he would ever say was that he didn't understand why anyone would want to hear about those things.

    When lots of people show up to vote, Democrats tend to win.

    by Audri on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 10:57:01 AM PST

  •  A day that will live in infamy..... (0+ / 0-)

    ....but I am not quite sure why the day we overthrew the Hawaiian Queen and put her under house arrest in her palace is not also a day that will live in infamy.

    And is it any wonder that the Japanese were getting nervous, with us halfway across the Pacific already?

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:10:41 AM PST

  •  I knew about the trapped men. (13+ / 0-)

    I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when somebody called me into the foyer where the big Atwater-Kent radio was.  I sat in front of it for the next six or so hours, hanging onto every bit of news.  Two of my mother's brothers dropped out of engineering school the next day and joined the navy.  The younger brother had to wait a couple of years until he graduated high school, and he joined the Army Air Corps.  I was too young to go before it ended.  I wanted to be a fighter pilot.  

    My father in law was in training for the big invasion of Japan when the war ended.  His older brother was a Marine and had been wounded on the beach at Iwo Jima.  My cousin was at Hickham Field and was shooting pool with buddies in the Day Room.  He dove out the window when he saw the bombs falling.  A bomb came through the roof of the room where he had just been and exploded, killing everyone else still in the room.

    If it had not been for the atomic bomb, my father in law knew the likelihood of him being killed in the assault on mainland Japan was about 100%.

    We knew the nature of the enemy and what we were fighting for.  Read the stories at this link.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:37:23 AM PST

  •  Enjoyed your writing very much (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pimutant, bontemps2012, Joy of Fishes

    Not sure about a commenters' desire to parse numbers and talk about national "mindsets." I assume each side believes the other has a "mindset," which is why that view gets inculcated in the populations to generate servicemembers who, like your dad, have tons of scales removed from eyes from actually being in combat. People who pontificate after (especially if they have never gone through an actual experience like your dad's) should probably more or less let the power of the veterans EXPERIENCE speak without equivocating in comments about both "ideas are horrible humanitarian crises." What drivel.

    “I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.” ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

    by dannyboy1 on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:38:14 AM PST

  •  My father was in one of the destroyers ... (8+ / 0-)

    off Iwo Jima. He never offered much about the experience, but would talk if asked. Unfortunately, by the time I was old enough to know the right questions, he was gone. We have the official history of his ships, though, and even that straightforward account is chilling.

    I really must find a good sig line!

    by Rileycat on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:40:46 AM PST

  •  I'm sorry, bear with me, but (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jakedog42, techno, jm214, kurt

    How anyone can justify those merciless, inhuman bombings on either Nagasaki or Hiroshima is beyond me - that's jingoistic BS, sorry.

    Japan had already capitulated three days before the first bomb. They had actually been trying to surrender for MONTHS, but Truman didn't want to grant that because Japan was asking for one thing, which was to keep their emperor on as a symbolic figurehead post-war because he was looked at like a deity. The President and his staff were obviously aware of the fact that the war was effectively over three days prior yet they decided to send the bombs for no other reason than to show what the US does to you when you cross it. Sound familiar?

    And those "sympathetic retrospectives"? Those were based on the fact that 25 years after the end of the war, America finally got some proof of the vast destruction and inhumanity of the bombings that every administration since had been censoring completely. There were finally first-hand accounts of American journalists, discoveries of how many people WERE STILL DYING and what that radiation does, of how the bombs were dropped at a time of day so women and children were the primary targets, of the very first camera footage ever of the aftermath, of the stone-cold fact that the US government had routinely censored everything about the bombings and were lying about their necessity and scope.

    Hell, just read this (1995, that's not so long ago, isn't it?):

    Back in 1995, the Smithsonian Institute was preparing to correct the pseudo-patriotic myths by staging an honest, historically-accurate 50th anniversary display exploring all sides of the atomic bombings. This provoked serious right-wing reactionary outrage from veterans groups and other “patriot” groups (including Newt Gingrich’s GOP-dominated Congress) the Smithsonian felt compelled to remove all of the contextually important aspects of the story, especially the bomb-related civilian atrocity stories.


    The Smithsonian historians did have a gun to their heads, of course, but in the melee, the mainstream media – and their easily brain-washable consumers of propaganda – ignored a vital historical point. And that is this: the war could have ended as early as the spring of 1945 without the August atomic bombings, and therefore there could have been averted the 3 month bloody battle of Okinawa that resulted in the deaths of thousands of American Marines with tens of thousands of Japanese military casualties and uncounted thousands of Okinawan civilian casualties.

    In addition, if the efforts had succeeded at ending the war via early Japanese efforts for an armistice, there would have been no need for the atomic bombs nor for an American land invasion – the basis of the subsequent propaganda campaign that retroactively justified the use of the bombs.

    President Truman was fully aware of Japan’s search for ways to honorably surrender months before the fateful order to incinerate, without warning, the defenseless women, children and elderly people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who had not been given a choice by their militarist, fascist government about going to war.

    That top-secret intelligence data, de-classified in the 1980s, showed that the contingency plans for a two-stage US invasion of the mainland (the first one no sooner than November 1, 1945 and the second one in the spring of 1946) would have been unnecessary.

    Since Truman and his advisors knew about these efforts, the war could have ended through diplomacy, first with a cease-fire and then a negotiated peace, by simply conceding a post-war figurehead position for the emperor Hirohito – who was regarded as a deity in Japan. That reasonable concession was – seemingly illogically – refused by the US in their demands for “unconditional surrender”, which was initially demanded at the 1943 Casablanca Conference between Roosevelt and Churchill and reiterated at the Potsdam Conference (July 1945) between Truman, Churchill and Stalin.

    When General Douglas MacArthur heard about the demand for unconditional surrender, he was appalled. He recommended dropping that demand to facilitate the process of ending the war peacefully. William Manchester, in his biography of MacArthur, American Caesar, wrote: “Had the General’s advice been followed, the resort to atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki might have been unnecessary.”

    Even Secretary of War Henry Stimson, said: “the true question was not whether surrender could have been achieved without the use of the bomb but whether a different diplomatic and military course would have led to an earlier surrender. A large segment of the Japanese cabinet was ready in the spring of 1945 to accept substantially the same terms as those finally agreed on.” In other words, Stimson felt that the US prolonged the war, including the battle for Okinawa, and could have made using the bombs unnecessary if it had engaged in honest negotiations.


    Admiral William Leahy, top military aide to President Truman, said in his war memoirs, I Was There: “It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons. My own feeling is that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages.

    And General Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a personal visit to President Truman a couple of weeks before the bombings, urged him not to use the atomic bombs. Eisenhower said: “It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing . . . to use the atomic bomb, to kill and terrorize civilians, without even attempting [negotiations], was a double crime.”

    After the bombings of August 6 and 9, the “unconditional” surrender terms were quietly dropped

    Ironically – and tragically – after the war ended, the emperor was allowed to remain in place as spiritual head of Japan, the very condition that made the Japanese leadership refuse to accept the humiliating “unconditional surrender” terms.

    Scholars have determined that there were a number of factors that contributed to Truman’s decision to use the bombs.

    1) The US had made a huge investment in time, mind and money (a massive 2 billion in 1940 dollars) to produce three bombs, and there was no inclination – and no guts – to stop the momentum.

    2) The US military and political leadership – not to mention most war-weary Americans – had a tremendous appetite for revenge because of the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. So, in the elation of the end-of-war moment, the public asked no questions and no explanations were demanded by the relieved citizens who quite willingly accepted the propaganda that justified the hideous end.

    National security typically allows – indeed, demands – stealing, cheating and lying about what really happens at the ground zeroes of history. The absurd old saying that “all’s fair in love and war” applies most emphatically to war.

    3) The fissionable material in Hiroshima’s bomb was uranium and Nagasaki’s was plutonium. Scientific curiosity about the differences between the two weapons was a significant factor that pushed the project to its completion. The Manhattan Project scientists and the US Army director of the project, General Leslie Groves, wanted answers to a multitude of questions raised by the project, including “what would happen if an entire city was leveled by a single nuclear bomb?”

    4) The Soviet Union had proclaimed its intent to enter the war with Japan 90 days after V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945), which would have been Aug. 8, two days after Hiroshima was bombed. The US didn’t want Japan surrendering to Russia (soon to be the only other superpower and a future enemy) so the first nuclear threat “messages” of the Cold War were “sent”, loud and clear.

    Finally, do me a favor and take a quick look at this:
    An estimated 80,000 innocent, defenseless civilians, plus 20,000 essentially weaponless young Japanese conscripts died instantly in the Hiroshima bombing. Hundreds of thousands more suffered slow deaths from agonizing burns, radiation sickness, leukemias and virtually untreatable infections for the rest of their shortened lives; and generations of the survivor’s progeny were doomed to suffer horrific radiation-induced illnesses, cancers and premature deaths that are still on-going at this very hour. Another sobering reality that has been covered up is the fact that 12 American Navy pilots, their existence well known to US command, were instantly incinerated in the Hiroshima jail on August 6, 1945.

    The 75,000 victims who died in the huge fireball at Nagasaki on August 9 were virtually all civilians, except for the inhabitants of an allied POW camp near Nagasaki’s ground zero. They were instantly liquefied, carbonized and/or vaporized by an experimental weapon of mass destruction that was executed by obedient, unaware scientists and soldiers, and blessed by Christian military chaplains who were just doing their duty. The War Dept. knew of the existence of the Nagasaki POWs and, when reminded of that fact before the B-29 fleet embarked on the mission, simply replied: “Targets previously assigned for Centerboard (code name for the Kokura/Nagasaki mission) remain unchanged.”

    So the official War Department. National Security State-approved version of the end of the war in the Pacific contained a new batch of myths that took their places among the long lists of myths by which nations make war. And such half-truth versions are still standard operating procedure that are continuously fed to us by the corporate, military, political and media opinion leaders that are the war-makers and war profiteers of the world.

    The well-honed propaganda of the war machine manufactures glory out of inglorious gruesomeness, as we have witnessed in the censored reportage of the US military invasions and occupations of sovereign nations like North Korea, Iran, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Granada, Panama, the Philippines, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Colombia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, etc. And this list doesn’t even start to uncover the uncountable Pentagon/CIA covert operations and assassination plots in the rest of the known world, where as many as150 nations have been bribed – or threatened – to host, usually against the population’s will, American military and CIA bases, secret torture (euphemistically called “rendition”) sites and other covert operations.

    The justification of the atrocities of August 6 and 9, 1945 are symbolic of the brain-washing that goes on in all “total wars”, which always result in other varieties of mass human slaughter in war known as  “collateral damage” and “friendly fire”.

    •  Sorry, not bearing with you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Otteray Scribe
      •  I want to clarify something (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm not saying Pearl Harbor wasn't an atrocity (to the contrary, I have met with survivors and I admire their courage and tear up just thinking what they had to go through) - especially the situation described in the diary. I am very, very sensitive on the other hand when people start diminishing the scope and devastation of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for no discernible reason.

        The atrocity of Pearl Harbor (and my respect goes out to anyone who had to suffer through it or perished there) doesn't cancel out the fact that the bombings were just as much of a (war) crime. The US government had been censoring their motives and the real state of those two cities for over two decades before evidence began surfacing - and that was a long enough period for the nationalistic propaganda of "we ended the war by dropping the bombs" to take root in the US. I might get riled up about this subject more than I should because I've done a bit of charity work a couple of years ago with an international human rights group, worked with citizens of Hiroshima with horrifying medical conditions and have since written papers about it for my Sociology courses which meant a lot of research on my part.

        So if I come across as forceful on this, it's because I was shocked that what I'd always assumed was mostly a Republican, über-patriotic stance (that Nagasaki and Hiroshima absolutely needed to be bombed to end the war, I mean, and that any sympathy in the '80s was not warranted whatsoever) was apparently accepted as truth even on DKos, arguably one of the most progressive, reality-based US political communities on the web. I'm sorry if I offended you, I really am. I just don't see that this "Pearl Harbor was horrible but Nagasaki/Hiroshima wasn't" kind of rhetoric helps anyone. We need to teach our children (and remember for ourselves) the inhumanity and horrible truth of both of these war crimes.

        If you're not bearing with me because of the facts I listed about what the media finally discovered about previous administrations' censorship of the bombings in the 1980's or that Japan had actually been trying to surrender for months before August 8, 1945, I don't really know what to say because it is the truth.

        If you're not bearing with me because today is the anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor and my tone was wrong, I agree I came across as too brash and wasn't very sensitive at all. It was a knee-jerk reaction to the tone of the diary that condemned Pearl Harbor (which wasn't ordered by the Japanese government, it was a horrible, cruel, rogue military operation) but needed to somehow diminish the atomic bombings and heavily implied that reports in the seventies and eighties were too "sympathetic" while ignoring WHY they were there, as well as the nature of the poll and the fact that someone here who innocently commented on possible US motives for the bombings in regards to Russia was pummeled quite viciously.

        I have nothing but sympathy for railsplitter's father and all of the victims, survivors and affected families of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I'd heard of the deaths of civilians before and I'm still sickened to read about it. Maybe I should've started my comment with that. I just don't get why any atrocity should be diminished for the sake of another because it was perpetrated by your own country, and the omission of certain very important facts about the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings made me want to correct it for people who might not know about this dark side of US history. I actually expected to read a diary about Pearl Harbor alone without any talk of the atomic bombs, but anyway...

        I feel for the victims of wartime brutality and savagery on either side of the aisle, no matter where they live. This was an absolutely monstrous, needless and vicious attack. Railsplitter's got my sympathies in regards to his father's needless suffering, as do all others who were made victims/are related to victims. I generally associate the diminishing of the Japan bombings with Republican "patriots" (which is why I talked about "jingoistic BS" and not getting why anyone would want to justify them) and didn't see how it was necessary to involve them in a diary on the horrors American civilians endured during another attack. A lot of misinformation still persists and we need to get the truth, whatever it is, out there about what happened at PH (because unfortunately most people do not know about the civilian deaths that occurred) and about Nagasaki/Hiroshima.

        •  Sorry but I still find your post offensive (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Munchkn, 207wickedgood, Quicklund

          Your apology seems like the old 'sorry if I offended you' BS that happens.  I am not calling BS on any genuine remorse on your part but if there was remorse it should have been a quick apology for thread jacking.  Next August 6th if you want to have a diary and dialog about the bombings including any new 'facts', then please do so.

          Today is about remembering those who died from the attacks of 12/7-12/8 1941.  

          Between now and next August I suggest if you have not that you read 'At Dawn We Slept' and more importantly 'The Making of Atomic Bomb'

          •  Didn't my comment (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            pertain to the content of the diary and the poll? That was what I felt when I posted it, otherwise I wouldn't have. And there was a commenter before me who talked about motivations for the bombings re: Russia the US had so I didn't see it as thread-jacking.

            And yes, I don't feel good about it and am the kind of person who, when they do something rash or without the amount of thought the subject owes, feels bad and wants to explain just why I reacted the way I did and what went wrong (most of the time in great detail, a personal quirk that can drive those around me up the wall once in a while). I've been in a seriously bad mood the last two days but that's no excuse, I'm sorry I took it out on anyone but myself.

            It really wasn't a "sorry if I offended you" BS apology. I can't stand those either. I thought my comment pertained to the diary and the poll and I apologized the way I did because I always feel the need expound on what I said and why, what I should have done, etc. Upon rereading the first comment right after having posted it I started wishing there was a way to edit/delete it and post another comment in which I treated the subject much more sensibly and completely dropped the quotes.

            So, again, my sincere apologies.

            •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              207wickedgood, Munchkn

              I am serious about a diary or something next year on August 6th.  A dialog on the bombs and their use is the kind of think that this site is great at hosting.  In the meantime if you have not Richard Rhodes two books on the Atomic bomb and the H Bomb please do.  Also 'Enola Gay' by Gordan Thomas is a great resource of the military thinking [not political].  

          •  I also find the post offensive in the extreme (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Munchkn, pelagicray, Quicklund

            The one thing our parents and grandparents would expect is to not to let the revisionists change history to suit ideological beliefs.

            We will never have to face what they faced on December 7th and for the next 3.7 years. Therefore there is no way that anyone of us has any right to to rewrite history based on third person + accounts of what people were thinking when the bomb was used and then make judgemental statements like

            the omission of certain very important facts about the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings made me want to correct it for people who might not know about this dark side of US history
            Good Christ. The self righteous justification for posting is nauseating enough. Your apology is total BS.  We argue over facts we see on TV right in front of us as they happen. To make whole judgements on the people who faced death everyday and if not that, the responsibility of death on their shoulders, based  on wisps of "information" that come around 40- 50+ years after the fact, is way over the line. There are whole sites dedicated to no-peer-reviewed "research" of total bullshit. That's one of the reasons conspiracy theorists are not allowed here.

            Take the hint

            •  Uh... (0+ / 0-)

              If I made judgements about anyone, it'd be Truman or the subsequent administrations who lied through their teeth about what happened. I made no judgements whatsoever about other people living at the time, and would especially not do so in regards to the people who had to suffer through this. I don't think anyone not at the highest level could've made a serious decision with the information they were given. My references to the "dark" side pertained solely to the evidence of the scope of the bombings and what the people who had the same amount of access to the facts as Truman were thinking at the time, which only started being unearthed in the 1980's.

              •  By the way (0+ / 0-)

                This absolutely is not revisionist history - there were first-hand accounts and the statements of staff members of Truman about the bombing are readily available, for example. I was trying to counter exactly the revisionism the US government had been doing until the the seventies and eighties, when the US media began to find out and inform the people. There is still a lot of misinformation out there about whether the decision over dropping those bombs was an unanimously seen as necessary, if the Japanese had already been surrendering or not. Revisionism is the reason for this.

                "Nauseating self-righteousness" - I already explained why I did it and how I should've done it, I already apologized a couple of times as well. I saw a troubling representation of some things pertaining to the bombs, and got a knee-jerk reaction seeing the implication that the supposedly sympathetic stories of the media in the 80's were somehow unmerited. I still think one atrocity should not make anyone try to diminish a different one that happened 4 years later.  They're all monstrous crimes that we should prevent from ever happening again.

    •  Sorry. Not true. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Munchkn, pelagicray

      The Japanese had 3.5 million soldiers and home guards to defend their home islands.  Given the extremely brutal fighting inch by inch in places like Okinowa and Pelelu, it could have cost hundreds of thousands of American lives to take the islands.

      •  One more thing. (0+ / 0-)

        Read the book "American Cesar, the Biography of Douglas McArthur."  It provides many details about the ending of the War and the decisions McArthur made in ruling occupied Japan.  Really, take the time to read it and you may get a different perspective on all this.

        •  Read "Retribution" by Max Hastings (0+ / 0-)

          About the last year of the Pacific War that tells a really comprehensive story about what was happeneing in Asia.
          Really puts all the factors together inculding Russsian entrance int the war and the atrocities the Japanese committed/were committing throught the war.

          Most of what we read is American-centric. this is an Englishman and tells the story most Americans don't know

          Happy just to be alive

          by exlrrp on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:12:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  90,000 to 166,000 died at Hiroshima. (5+ / 0-)

      At least 100,000 died during the firebombing of Tokyo on March 10, 1945.   Japan fought the Okinawan invasion "to the last Okinawan", goes a bitter joke:  100,000 to 140,000 civilians perished along with 95,000 Japanese soldiers and about 12,600 American soldiers.  

      Had Hiroshima and Nagasaki not been nuked and the war continued, they or other cities (Kyoto?) would have been firebombed, with thousands killed.  America anticipated heavy casualties from a land war in Japan.  Japan would recall her troops from the Asian mainland and, it was reasonably believed, fight fiercely.  From the Operation Downfall wiki:

      Nearly 500,000 Purple Heart medals were manufactured in anticipation of the casualties resulting from the invasion of Japan. . . In 2003, there were still 120,000 of these Purple Heart medals in stock.[50] There are so many in surplus that combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan are able to keep Purple Hearts on-hand for immediate award to soldiers wounded on the field.[50]

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 12:05:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My Mother is a Pearl Harbor Survivor.... (17+ / 0-)

    On this day every year I call my mother to reflect on the misery that reigned from the sky and the sadness it brought upon the earth and the sea on this fateful day.

    My eight year old mother, her sister and my grandmother were on their way to church when the attack began, with post church plans to go to their girlfriends home for brunch. With all the commotion in the sky my grandmother looked up and said, "Oh my God, its the Rising Sun". With that and jeeps racing through the streets ordering civilians into their homes, to cover their windows and fill their tubs with water, the long wait began.

    For three days, not knowing if my grandfather, a navy submariner, who that day was stationed on the USS Narwahl in Pearl was alive or dead, they waited in the hallway of their small home.

    They survived the hell rained upon them that day, though their girlfriends they were to go visit after church, along with their mother, were all killed by the attack. Three of the thirteen civilians to die that day, who too are memorialized on a plaque at the Arizona Memorial.

    Three days later my grandfather arrived at home to the embrace of his family and prepared them for evacuation to the mainland.

    We still have the bullet riddled flag that flew that day on the USS Narwahl and one week of the dailiy issued Honolulu Star Bulletin newspaper. All safely protected for future generations.

    It took decades before my mother was able to speak about the atrocities she witnessed and smelled on that fateful day and the days that followed. But today she speaks to children and the media to remind them of the hell of war and to never forget the men and women who gave their lives because they chose to serve their country.

    I love you Mom.

  •  My father drove trucks in the Red Ball Express (18+ / 0-)

    in WW II.  He never talked about it, but when I enlisted in the Army and volunteered for Vietnam (I had screwed up in college and lost my student status), I recall him trying to talk to me about war--he said he proud of me for volunteering, but his face clearly showed something else—FEAR—one that he could not articulate.  I did not understand it then, but after being in combat for 10 months, with all that it entails, being wounded three times (evacuated the last time), virtually bathing in Agent Orange, and suffering from PTSD, I came to understand fully what his fear was--that his eldest son was about to experience what no 19 year old should ever have to experience. I would have fought with every ounce of energy in me to prevent my son from having to suffer as I did--whether he would have followed my wishes is another story;  a 19 year old is invincible, at least in his/her  own mind.  For many years I refused to talk about the horrors of war; but eventually to recover from those horrors I had to do so; and was able to do so through the VA’s Vet Centers.  And to refuse to speak about it was what was keeping me sick. I have even been able to speak with my father about his experiences and because I too "was there" he opens up to me, as much as is possible for him.  Someone commented that no one wants to hear about the horrors of war and that is probably true, but we who have suffered those horrors MUST speak about it or suffer even more.  I have learned through painful experience that people who ask about war never want to hear the detailed truth about it—most are looking for a good war story.  But there have been times when I thought they really wanted to hear more than just a war story and I opened up and began sharing the truth—and when I did, invariably their eyes seemed to glaze over, they would start fidgeting and eventually give signals that it's too much for them--then I had to pull back into myself, getting angry at them and even more angry at myself and swearing I would never do it again.  And mostly I don’t.  

    •  Welcome home. N/T (10+ / 0-)

      The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

      by Otteray Scribe on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 12:09:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You deserve all the peace you can find, (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes, jm214, kurt, Munchkn, tung sol

      and then more when you go to your final rest.  And be assured, some of us will listen and not tell you to silence the truth you speak.  I have neither served in combat or peacetime, as so many of my family have, but I have done what I could do--I have listened to them share their memories, through terror and tears.  It would be a travesty to deny your right to share what all people need to hear, so that they may work to prevent such events from ever needing to be repeated again.

      "Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so." - Bertrand Russell

      by HamilcarBarca on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 04:29:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

        I began to find peace when I got sober in AA in 1982, and it has been a wonderful path to be on, as it has led me to a belief in a power greater than myself-- for me has never been (nor do I suspect it ever willl be) the god of the Bible.  Thank you as well for listening to your loved ones who have suffered -- that is a gift that is more important than you can imagine.  

    •  Refusing to talk is typical, understandable and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      reinforced by both government and society in order to "shield" the public from what might be inconvenient to policy and true revulsion. The conventional "hero" and "silence" in society after the "War to end all wars" was intense and just perhaps led to thinking that allowed it to all happen again in Act II.

      I noted above:

      Sanitizing is unfortunate and, I think, long term counterproductive. To some considerable degree I think sanitizing WW II and the natural desire to shield families and friends from shock and horror by combat veterans led to public support for wars not necessary nor forced.
      Families often know, at least that something really horrible is there, and also become parts of the silence. I think it is that silence, a failure to confront what really happens when metal and high explosive are unleashed on flesh, that allows wars that are not absolutely last resort to come about.

      I've become convinced by decades of research into both the civilian and military sides of particularly WW I and WW II that a public more aware would have done more to prevent those not last resort and even more supportive of strong, even violent, actions to put a stop to movements that would force another.

      When Hitler ordered soldiers and armed policemen into the Rhineland in March 1936 the army was under orders to retreat on the slightest sign France or any of the Allies showed signs of countering with military means. It has been said that if France had just countered with armed police that early move toward the immolation of Europe might have been the end for his ventures. I am convinced the atmospheric horror of war was combined with an unreality about the real and practical horror led to aversion to taking strong action during the early days of Italian, German and Japanese military acts.

      Talking is good for the public and probably for you.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 09:12:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Every time some "wannabe" (9+ / 0-)

    patriot compares 9-11-2001 to 12-7-1941 I get mad enough to, well, let's not go there.  Drugstore cowboys have nothing on wannabe warriors who haven't a fucking clue about the difference between war and a terrorist attack.

  •  Long ago in the Readers Digest (3+ / 0-)

    I read about the men trapped for 16 days, marking off the days on a calendar. I've often thought of them.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 01:32:37 PM PST

  •  Saw some footage today (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in which our men blew up a Japanese ship… and then shot the unarmed survivors in the water. I hadn't known before that we'd done that in "the good war."

    I understand taking on POWs in the conflict would have been logistically difficult. But it was disquieting to see that we committed the same kind of acts that I had always heard that "the Japs" and the Nazis had committed against our men and allies.

    Sobering. War is indeed hell.

    •  But for a lot of folks, war is profitable, and for (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mofembot, tung sol

      others, well, as Winston Churchill once observed, "Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result." And as GIs who have pulled successful ambushes on "gooks" and "wogs" and "camel jockeys" about the other side of that exhilaration. And how many here spend hours lost in the wonderful world of "Call of Duty: Black Ops" or one of its predecessors or parallel universes?

      Some people get high on the fumes of Hell.

      "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

      by jm214 on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 07:04:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But there's always after… (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and I think of how wracked with guilt some of those guys must have been after the heat of battle was over and they realized that they'd acted barbarically. Not everyone would feel that way, of course, but given how a significant percentage of soldiers (and cops, etc.) feel terrible about shooting even someone who was actively shooting at them, it would be a torment to some who were able to see the faces of the helpless men they shot in the water.

        … Even if they were following orders not to take prisoners.

  •  About the poll, and the results to it. (5+ / 0-)

    It's one thing to be critical of the motives and the reasoning behind Truman's decision to drop the bomb. He had access to far more information than the average person did. It's reasonable to criticize his decision to give the order, as well as the decision of senior military leadership to execute the order.

    But don't kid yourselves. If you'd been through what those folks had been through... if you'd been told what they were told... almost all of you would have been fine with it. The president and his cabinet had a good idea what they were unleashing, even if they didn't know the full effects of radioactive fallout (they didn't). Oppenheimer came out against it's use in combat after witnessing the testing of the device. But Joe and Jane Smith didn't know about any of that.

    Hindsight is 20/20, and of all the faults of the so called Greatest Generation, failure to condemn the United States for using nuclear weapons against Japan really isn't one of them. They had no idea what the facts on the ground really were. Frankly, I think that played a big part in Washington's decision to go ahead with it. They knew the public would believe the rationalization they were going to give them.

    I don't delude myself on this point. If it had been me, knowing what they thought they knew, after having been through the worst war in human history... I'd have volunteered to drop the damn thing.

    You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

    by Eric Stratton on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:21:14 PM PST

    •  Hiroshima/Nagasaki vs other raids... (8+ / 0-)

      I cannot see any real difference in the degree of horror between the raids which used nuclear bombs, and the ones that used conventional incendiaries.  The March 9/10 1945 raid on Tokyo killed at least 100,000 people.  All of this is awful; so is the attack that started the whole thing off.

      Here is a StoryCorps interview with a Pearl Harbor survivor that played on NPR Morning Edition a while ago.  Be advised - it's not easy to listen to.

      •  The two are horribly intertwined. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PeterHug, Munchkn

        People throw around terms like imperialism and war crimes. Certainly, human nature and the capacity of states led to do wrong hasn't changed in the past 70 years. But there is no modern day comparison to the brutality of that war.

        You had a major power which proudly declared itself to be an Empire, and refered to it's maritime force as The Imperial Navy. They were never coy about their intentions, and they carried out their plans with zeal. The United States was benign by comparison, but only by comparison. The fire bombing of Tokyo was simply cruel. There is no other word for it. In many ways, it was violence for it's own sake.

        I wish they pounded this stuff into our kids heads in school. It would never happen because it's not PC and they're much more worried about getting their students ready to take some pointless standardized test. I doubt they spend a week teaching WWII history anymore. But they should.

        People who have never experienced it need to know that war is terrible. And they need to know just how terrible it can get.

        You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

        by Eric Stratton on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 04:47:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I remember reading an article about (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Munchkn, Eric Stratton

          the Dresden raid - afterwards, they found two kids who had been trapped by the flames and had the presence of mind to jump into a fountain.  Which meant that instead of burning to death, they instead were boiled.

          I'm not trying to cast aspersions on anything we did in WWII - if you're looking for a justifiable war, that one is pretty far up on the list.  I'm just pointing out that, no matter what, any war is horrible and should be avoided absolutely as far as possible.

    •  I agree, mostly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Stratton

      I absolutely get that citizens in the United States could not have possibly known at the time whether or not the bombings were necessary, and the military propaganda as well as the length of the war was wearing everyone down to say the least. Hindsight IS 20/20. I don't know why people (with the information we have now) still want to justify the atomic bombings, however, when we know admirals, staff members, Dwight Eisenhower and others who had access to the same information as Truman were adamantly against dropping them at that time. I refrained from voting in the poll because honestly, I don't think anyone would be able to guess how they'd have reacted in real-time and it is most likely almost everyone would've been for the bombs. Nobody even knew what kind of power and different effects atomic bombs had.

      •  I talked to a couple of guys from that era. Vets. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloraLine, 207wickedgood

        They were all convinced that the bomb averted the loss of a million Marines taking Tokyo, as well as even more civilians being sacrificed for the Emperor. As the Japanese surrender so closely followed the bombings, this logic seems reasonable.

        The reality is that Japan was isolated and could neither project force anywhere that mattered nor reconstitute it's capabilities. The hawks wanted to field test their new weapon, and they wanted the world to see what this thing could do. Truman, I believe, was concerned that the Soviets wanted to seize the Korean Peninsula and the Kuril Islands, and he wished to limit their sphere of influence. That's not a bad thing in itself, but incinerating two cities to achieve this was beyond immoral, whatever the policy goal was.

        I suppose we should proud of him, I read somewhere that some of these guys wanted to target Kyoto. It's almost surreal when you think of what those discussions were like.

        You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

        by Eric Stratton on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 05:46:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My late Father-in-law was in the Navy at the time (6+ / 0-)

    under age and about to get caught.  

    He was on a supply ship that had left Pearl late on Dec 5 in route to the Aleutians.  He was radio man/OD when the radio message came in.  "Pearl Harbor under attack.  THIS IS NO DRILL, repeat THIS IS NO DRILL."  His main worry at that moment whether he needed to "wake the old man" about this.  He did anyway.  Their orders were to continue to supply the attachment in the Aleutians.

    Later that day, the captain called him in to his office.  He had been found out, being underage.  The captain "he could wash me out, but returned the paperwork to the stack and said welcome to the Navy, son".

    He fought in the Philippines and was on route again heading for the staging point for the Japan Mainland Invasion when it was all over.  He stayed in until after the second Bikini Atoll test (when he was on deck and shouldn't have been).  He later served in the Korean War as a DI for the Rangers.

    My Grandfather on my Dad's side was a 3F due to having bad heart valves (rheumatic fever).  They let him in to go thru a modified basic and become a Sergent for the invasion force.  He was discharged not too long after the initial occupation force was in place.

    "Death is the winner in any war." - Nightwish/Imaginareum/Song of myself.

    by doingbusinessas on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:41:54 PM PST

  •  Thanks for posting this. (7+ / 0-)

    My dad is 94.  He was there.  He walked on some of the ships and knew about the tapping.

    What a horror.  He took pix of his bunkmates sleeping at night with full uniforms including boots helmets and weapons , per orders after the attack.

    Nothing to the pix locked in his head, i know.

    "Because inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened." -Terry Pratchett

    by revsue on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:43:41 PM PST

  •  My neighbors have refused to fly their flag at (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Otteray Scribe, Munchkn, FloraLine

    half staff today.  They have a tall flagpole that is lit.  They had their church members stand around it one night in a freaky show of fascism.  

    Yet they continue to ignore flying it at half staff.  

    Today it is supposed to be in remembrance of Pearl Harbor.

    My husband actually served his country under that flag.  We don't have a flagpole or fly a flag.  There's numerous responsibilities that go along with it.  Most don't care to follow them though.

    "Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

    by Damnit Janet on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:33:49 PM PST

    •  Wait... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Why did they refuse? That's puzzling.

      I salute your husband, the amount of bravery it takes to selflessly serve your country is immense.

      •  They're Hatriots. That's why. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Munchkn, Hoghead99, FloraLine

        None of them have served.  None of them even go to school.  He's some preacher.  

        Last flag they had, it hung so low off their garage that it would drape down onto the cement.  I think a neighbor actually stole it out of frustration with their lack of respect for it.  So the reason they have this 50ft pole now.

        No need to thank my husband.  He feels like he's actually serving his country now by feeding people.  He does Meals on Two Wheels each week.  :)  

        "Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

        by Damnit Janet on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 10:40:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Awesome (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Damnit Janet

          That's he's doing that. Your husband is a helluva guy, or that's what it sounds like to me. ;) You might say there's no need to thank him, but I just can't stop admiring the selflessness of people who have served in the military!

          And "hatriots" should actually exist as a word, sums these people up perfectly.

  •  A Great Interview of a Veteran I recorded (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, Munchkn

    last year

    Remembering Pearl Harbor Minnesota History Museum 12 7 11

  •  I am from a family who honors (6+ / 0-)

    government service.  Seven military veterans, seven teachers/professors, two firefighters, two paramedics, a head emergency room nurse, and two correctional officers.  I myself am one of the seven teachers.

    My grandfathers served in the Navy and Marine Corps respectively, in WWII.  My mother's two brothers served in the Army in Vietnam, one decorated with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.  My father served in Vietnam in the Air Force.  Throughout my life I have asked and been graciously gifted with their wisdom and warnings of the consequences of war on individuals, society, and humanity as a whole.  It is wisdom I would not give up for any price.

    Being a historian, I was first drawn into history by the many books on WWII on the shelves of my grandfathers.  The two-page images at the beginning of one WWII tome showed images that I, as an eight year-old, was incredibly touched by, emotionally, but did not understand why, until I understood the tremendous importance of what they showed through my own scholarship and the personal stories of my grandfathers:  a rusted Japanese tank sitting half-submerged in a Pacific island lagoon; a massive crowd of people madly praising a man with a tiny moustache and maddened eyes who was walking up the steps of some kind of stadium to give a speech; the rough wooden crosses and helmets of German soldiers in a small cemetery in a solemn German forest; the endless, silent, vigilant rows of white crosses and Stars of David in Arlington; the remains of city hall in Hiroshima, rising behind a playground where children were engaged in happy play.

    I've not shied away from the stories of atrocity and hell so many went through, not only in WWII, but all throughout humanity's history.  Our nation has both given and received violence, as have so many other nations, both those long-gone and still existant.  I have studied the Crusades, the forgotten atrocities in South America in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, the insanities of religious wars of the 17th Century in Europe and today in the Middle East.  We all owe it to the survivors and victims, and to the children of the future, to learn those lessons of history well, so as to never, ever repeat them.

    "Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so." - Bertrand Russell

    by HamilcarBarca on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 04:21:35 PM PST

  •  May they rest in peace. (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you, railsplitter.

  •  I was in NYC on V - J Day, headed for the Pacific (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Munchkn, Hoghead99, the fan man, tung sol

    theater.  Happy as hell I the war was over.  I have never been able to comprehend why the horror about the deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki resonates so much while the 10's of thousands who were roasted to death in the Tokyo fire bombings are pretty much ignored.  Select the  one you like best.  A.  Instant annulation   B.  Death by slow roasting  
    Ah, the glory of war!  

    •  They're both awful (0+ / 0-)

      And both were slow - the radiation affects offspring of original survivors (whose life was drastically shortened by the exposure even though they didn't die instantly - tens of thousands of people suffered incredibly painful and drawn-out deaths) to this day. Both involved a ton of people dying needless, slow and agonizing deaths. Same goes for Pearl Harbor, especially horrified for the civilians who died as outlined by the diary.

  •  Great diary. We also forget we were planning a (0+ / 0-)

    drop of the atom bomb on Germany, crews were actively prepping for it when Germany surrendered.

    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

    by the fan man on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 06:47:48 AM PST

  •  Compartment A-111 (0+ / 0-)

    I've been a lurker here for years. This post finally got me to join. I've heard this story before, but there's one very significant detail that I've only read once, and that was Homer Wallin's "Pearl Harbor: why, how, fleet salvage, and final appraisal." Compartment A-111 was the freshwater pumping room, and the combat station of the men found there. What follows is conjecture informed by that one additional fact.

    The West Virginia took as much underwater damage as any of the BBs. But unlike the Oklahoma, the West Virginia did not capsize, but sank upright. What was the difference? The captain of the West Virginia ordered counter-flooding. The men in Compartment A-111 executed that order, resulting in a controlled sinking of the West Virginia, and them with it. They knew they were sacrificing themselves, but they did their duty.

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