Bombing of Hiroshima: Lessons We Have Yet to Learn

6 Aug

Remembering Hiroshima

Today marks the 66th anniversary of the United States dropping an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima.  When I reflect back on WWII and the reasons for the war, I am not only saddened by the horrific number of lives lost in both the Pacific and European theaters, but I am rather disgusted that many Americans have lost sight of why we fought in WWII.

We entered the Pacific Theater only when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, never mind that they were killing thousands of Chinese before this.  People probably won’t want me to bring up the fact that here in the United States we kept thousands of Japanese-Americans detained in interment camps, as well as Americans who “looked” Japanese.

It does not seem that long ago when I was watching 60 minutes at my step-mother’s house and they were showing the horrible effects of the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki 30 years after the bombings.  People were dying from leukemia caused by radiation poisoning from the atomic bombs.  For those that have not read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, I strongly encourage you to do so.

In the European Theater, we were trying to stop the unimaginable Holocaust and the 11 million deaths resulting from the Nazis. As a side note, one should mention that Rudolf Brazda died Wednesday.  Brazda is believed to be the last surviving man to wear the pink triangle — the emblem homosexuals had to wear and that were sent to Nazi concentration camps, most of them sent to their deaths.

We entered the war to fight back the cloak of Naziism and Fascism.  We considered ourselves to be better than the oppressors we were fighting.  The irony is palpable when you think about our government today and about The Teahadists, who think like, behave like, speak like, Fascists.  I mean really, who signs a pledge to commit to hurting a population–to promise to discriminate against an already marginalized and bullied people?  Well, now four of the Republican Presidential candidates have signed that pledge.

It seems painfully obvious that we have not learned the lessons of history.  As the Teahadists follow in the footsteps of the former President worked hard to move the United States into a Theocracy, the original notion of religious freedom seems to be conveniently forgotten in the face of Bachmann et al. purporting to want to return to the “original constitution.”  Is there just one brain that all the Republican candidates have to share and they can’t keep up with whose turn it is?

Today, as I remember all the lives lost specifically in Hiroshima, and the current path of the government in the United States, I shall endeavor to make a thousand paper cranes in the hope that our elected officials know history and know how to lead with compassion, integrity, and with the interest of the American people guiding them, not just white heterosexual christians, but ALL of the American people.

10 Responses to “Bombing of Hiroshima: Lessons We Have Yet to Learn”

  1. brad fairchild August 6, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    i haven’t read that book– what do the paper cranes represent? also, i wasn’t aware of rudolf bradza– thanks for letting us know— i shall have to look him up….

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt August 6, 2011 at 8:40 am #

      Brad, very sad about our Rudolf. You will love Sadako! It is a very short children’s book, but I have yet to find an adult that did not love it! I used to use it when I was teaching English.

  2. webwordwarrior August 6, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    What an amazing post, Michael! You are so right (sadly) about the lack of learning. How sad that so many have so little sense of history. Thank you for weaving these powerful threads together to help us understand.

  3. Jennifer Lockett August 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    Michael, just saw this after I did my post on “Today in History” (not plagiarizing you for the second time I swear!!).

    This remains a conflicting event for me as my grandfather was slated as part of the first-wave invasion of Japan (where 60% casualties were anticipated and 75% would have been acceptable). He never went to the Pacific because the war ended with the bomb. Still, the fact that civilian targets were intentionally targeted has always stuck in my craw – a true ‘military’ target would have been a whole other issue.

    I also included two famous quotes in mine:

    “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of Worlds” — Oppenheimer (quoting the Baghavad Gita)
    “Now we are all sons of bitches.” — Bainbridge

    These men echoed the horror that came with their invention.

    • Jennifer Lockett August 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

      Umm… I used the word ‘target’ three times in the same sentence. Disgusting.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt August 6, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

      Yes, I am with you regarding the targeting of civilians! Thank you for including the link to your blog on a different take on Hiroshima. I love the quotes you included. Well done!

    • stumdanger August 6, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

      In the age of dumb bombs and total war, the concept of targeting civilian targets during the war was unfortunately unavoidable. We took the same practice in Nazi Germany with the targeting of the industrial complex that was supplying the Nazi war machine. But then again, we were at war. In order to win at war we must attempt to destroy the state and all who support it.

      There was an Army Air Corps pilot who was asked how he felt about the Germany bombings and how he felt about the possibility of hitting civilians like women. His response was basically this. If he hit a house and killed a woman, that woman made the sandwich that fed and strengthened the factory worker making the bombs or the bullets or gas. So she was just as much a Nazi as he was.

      Civilian targetrs are the nature of an invasion. While not parts of the traditional military complex, they are still sources of cover, converted to headquarters, rally points. Perhaps it is a dehumanizing thing to do, but one has to look at “civilian” targets more as terrain features when in the process of an invasion.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt August 6, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

        “Perhaps it is a dehumanizing thing to do, but one has to look at “civilian” targets more as terrain features when in the process of an invasion,” I categorically disagree with you.

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