The anniversaries of the A-bomb explosions on Nagasaki and Hiroshima have become an annual exercise in self-recriminations by many Americans. These same Americans were not facing the uncertainty of combat, staring death in the face.
My oldest brother joined the U.S. Marine Corps on December 18, 1941, after the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He was killed on Guadacanal Oct. 9, 1942. He was just 20 years old.
In August 1945, my next-oldest brother was on a ship, heading for the invasion of Japan. Casualties were expected to be in the millions for the U.S. forces, the Japanese military and the civilian population. Japan would have been virtually destroyed.
However, instead of arriving as a combat soldier, he entered Japan as part of a peaceful occupation force. In that brief period of time, his life was probably saved. Subsequent information collected by researchers indicated the Japanese army intended to massacre all prisoners of war which included civilian men, women and children of countries occupied by the Japanese. No trace of these human remains was to have been found, forever concealing the barbaric and inhumane treatment inflicted on them.
Only the emperors sudden proclamation for an immediate cessation of all hostilities prevented the Japanese army from carrying out their extermination plan.
When my brother returned home in 1948, his experiences with the Japanese people in Tokyo intrigued me and made me want to learn more about these courteous, kind people.
After joining the military in 1955, I spent 30 months in Japan from 1956 to 1959, enjoying their food and culture. I hold no grudge against the people of Japan. Of course, I regret the war and the loss of my oldest brother. It was tragic and senseless.
Whether one is being shot, stabbed, blown apart or incinerated, there is no good way to die. Therefore, when the annual soul-searching begins and the question asked is, Should the United States have dropped the Atom bomb on Japan? My answer is YES.
Millions of lives were saved and casualties prevented by the abrupt end to hostilities.
And if your life had been on the line, I think you would agree without hesitation.
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