Just finished reading Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing the Rising Sun“. As I have said many times before, I lived through WWII, remember it vividly, and had family serving in the Pacific from Midway through the end of the war. I don’t really remember the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but I do remember my cousin returning home from the war and how happy I was that it was over.
Over the years I solidified my opion of the decision President Harry S. Truman made, and I have always felt that we did the right thing ending the war by whatever means available to us. Japan was showing no sign of surrender, even as we opened it’s back door, Okinawa (losing 6000 American lives), and prepared to fight Japan on it’s homeland, they would not unconditionally surrender. Estimates of 100,000 to several million allied lives and more millions of civilian lives would be saved by forcing the surrender. Japan still had 40 million rabid followers of Hirohito vowing to fight to the last man.
As I read O’reilly’s description of the horrendous devastation of the two cities I paused. Descriptive words like vaporized bodies, skin falling off, instant death, and total devistation, caused me to rethink my feelings and judgements. Then I recalled the Bataan March, the Philippine autrocities, the Comfort Women and the take-no-prisoners stories I heard as a child, and reread in O’Reilly’s marvelous recounting; my original feelings were reinforced.
I whole heartedly believe that Truman and the Joint Chiefs made the correct decision. We had spent too many years, lost too many lives and shed too many tears to, any longer, put up with a petulant dictator (Hirohito) and an egomaniacal general (Tojo) to continue sheding more precious American, Australian and British blood.
Read the book, form your own opinions remembering over 1,000,000 Americans were killed (406K) or wounded (607K) in WWII, and the likelyhood of doubling that figure was at stake when the Hiroshima/Nagasaki decision was made.