Skip to main content

This isn't a long diary.

I've got much more thinking to do on a subject that's occupied a big portion of my mind over the years, namely the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But the bombs had to be delivered, and someone had to deliver them.

And the man who headed up those missions was Paul Tibbets. He died today, at the age of 92, and unapologetic to the end.

Greg Mitchell, writing about Tibbets today in Editor and Publisher, says:

(Tibbets) scoffed at the notion of shedding any tears over the bombing.

"I’ve got a standard answer on that," he informed me. "I felt nothing about it....I couldn’t worry about the people getting burned up down there on the ground. ...This wasn’t anything personal as far as I’m concerned , so I had no personal part in it....It wasn’t my decision to make morally, one way or another...I did what I was told -- it was a success as far as I was concerned, and that’s where I’ve left it...I can assure you that I can sleep just as peacefully at night as anybody can sleep...."

So, who's going to own up to what happened?

Like I said, I've got more to think about on this. In the meantime, here're the lyrics to a song by OMD from my punk days that at least begin to ask the question:

Enola Gay,
you should have stayed at home yesterday
Aha words can't describe
the feeling and the way you lied

These games you play,
they're gonna end it more than tears someday
Aha Enola Gay,
it shouldn't ever have to end this way

Its 8:15,
and that's the time that it's always been
We got your message on the radio,
"conditions normal" and you're coming home

Enola Gay,
is mother proud of little boy today?
Aha this kiss you give,
it's never ever gonna fade away

Enola Gay,
it shouldn't ever have to end this way
Aha Enola Gay,
it shouldn't fade in our dreams away

Its 8:15,
and that's the time that it's always been
We got your message on the radio,
"conditions normal" and you're coming home

Enola Gay,
is mother proud of little boy today?
Aha this kiss you give,
it's never ever gonna fade away.

Paul Tibbets doesn't have to answer to us anymore.

Originally posted to RubDMC on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 03:57 PM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  It isn't Tibbets we should concentrate on (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AbsurdEyes, mr crabby, Nulwee

    It's Truman and Dulles, killing tens of thousands of people to intimidate the Soviets.

    The barbarism of the Nazis rubbed off on their enemies.

    Horrific.

    You can't reason someone out of something they weren't reasoned into. - Jonathan Swift

    by A Mad Mad World on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:03:24 PM PDT

    •  Hm (22+ / 0-)

      My dad was on Okinawa.  That was a bloodbath of unparalleled proportions because we were closing in on the home islands.

      He described to me how tough and fanatical the Japanese troops were.  He ran patrols with a fire throwing tank after the combat.  They would call into the cave in Japanese, telling anyone inside that the fighting was over and that they shoudl surrender or face the fire.  They didn't get many surrenders.  Too often, the tank shot fire into the caves to either roast the occupants or suffocate them by burning up all the air.

      I can't even imagine what fighting on Honshu or Hokkaido would have been like and how many hundreds of thousands of Americans and Japanese soldiers and civilians would have died.

      I understand the revisionist viewpoint, but from the first hand accounts of my father, I think the bombing probably did more good than harm.

      •  There were plenty of places (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnnygunn, Zaq

        where the U.S. could have demonstrated the power of an atomic bomb without dropping it in the middle of a crowded city.

        But by the end of WWII the idea of enormous civilian casualties (especially as delivered via air power) was no longer thought of as an abomination, as it was at the beginning of the war.

        You can't reason someone out of something they weren't reasoned into. - Jonathan Swift

        by A Mad Mad World on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:37:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not clear that would have worked (4+ / 0-)

          I'm not so sure that would have worked.  There was very nearly a military coup against the Emperor as is -- much of the military wanted to go on fighting, even if it meant city after city being incinerated.  

          Given how close it was as is, I'm not a demonstration bomb would have tipped the Emperor into surrender, or would have left enough of the military willing to go along with it.

          •  Of Course - (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Mad Mad World

            It was never tried, was it?

            As to those who say that the U.S. only had two bombs.
            There were three in August,
            Three more due in Sept.
            And three more for Oct.

            The U.S. could have easily used one or two bombs for demonstration.
            But they didn't.

            They the "saved millions of lives" argument fails -
            since no attempt was made to demonstrate the weapon
            and STILL avoid the need for invasion.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

            Source - The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II, A Collection of Primary Sources, (pdf). National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 162. The George Washington University (1945-08-13).

            •  Japan had over a million men in China (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Justanothernyer

              When the bomnb was dropped. Just tearing up the place. Youve heard of the Rape of Nanking? 250 thousand Chinese dead? More than both A bombs together?  Multiply that by  40 and you get close to the estimated number of total  Chinese dead--and this was going on the day the bombs werre dropped

              The Japanese killed a million Filipinos---this was going on the day the bomb was dropped.

              they had a half million men in the CBI theater fighti9ng there too---this ended the  day the bomb was dropped.

              They were looting and raping Vietnam the day the bomb was droopped, like they had the past 6 years.

              The japanese were using our POWs and others for Nazi like "medical experiments" the day the bomb was dropped.

              they'd kidnapped and raped 10s of thousands of Korean "comfort women" and that was going on the day the bombs were dropped.

              And all that stopped when they dropped two bombs.
              It sure ended a lot of ongoing Japanese brutality in a few days.
              While horrible, it was the only thing that would have ended the war in days.

              And the japanese never payed the price the Chinese, Filipinos and the rest of Asia paid for their brutal imperialism.

              " You don't need to be an icthyologist to know when a rotten fish stinks." Daniel Ellsberg, from "Secrets"

              by exlrrp on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:33:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  What Part of War Crimes - (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RubDMC, JayBat

                Do you not understand?

                The U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki -
                as well as the fire bombing of Japanese cities and the British/U.S. bombing of Dresden and Hamburg - had minimal military value against an already defeated enemy.

                Were these bombings revenge for the Blitz and for the Bataan Death March?
                For Pearl Harbor?  Perhaps.

                Were they a warning to Joe Stalin?  
                Again, perhaps.

                But, regardless, they were illegal and were war crimes - not under 2007 definitions of war crimes - but under then current understandings of what constituted crimes against humanity.

                Because our enemies commit war crimes, does that give us permission to do so?
                We had a moral obligation and the military power
                to do a demonstration of the power of the atomic bomb - first.  
                We failed to do so.

            •  Hiroshima was the example (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Toktora

              If they didn't surrender after that, why would they surrender after a "test."

      •  The revisionist viewpoint (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RubDMC

        is the current one that the bombing was agreed to by all. At the time, the decision was hotly contested.

        The military advised against it. The decision to bomb was made by civilians.

        See Hiroshima's Shadow for a good overview of how the decision was made.

    •  Can't Ignore Okinawa's Lessons (14+ / 0-)

      Truman and his Pacific Theater commanders had to consider the lessons they learned from the fighting on Okinawa.  The Japanese were not going to surrender without killing as many invaders as they could, with no regard for their own losses.  Those tens of thousands you lament were going to die anyway.  That was the unfortunate calculus Truman had to confront.  

      Also, just consider one final factor.  After having had two atomic bombs dropped on them, wiping out two of the last essentially untouched cities in Japan, the Japanese high command still dithered on surrendering.  The US did not force "unconditional" surrender on Japan, which until the end of the war had included the removal of the Japanese emperor.  The US relented and allowed the Emperor to remain on the throne.  Only that pull back persuaded the Japanese to finally surrender.  You honestly think the Japanese were going to surrender conveniently without having been confronted by the existence of the bomb?  Hell, they haven't admitted to their savagery in the war after fifty years.

      "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

      by PrahaPartizan on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:28:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another paper crane (8+ / 0-)

    another paper lantern

     title=

    We can have the Constitution or we can have Bush but, we can't have both.

    by Friend of the court on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:12:17 PM PDT

  •  OK, so maybe I'm a troll, but (26+ / 0-)

    all the revisionist questioning of the decision to use the bomb dliberately ignores important historical circumstances, the most important of which is the following:

    Japanese army resistance, already fierce, stiffened as the allies drew closer to the Japanese islands. Mass suicides and the killing of civilians led allied officers to estimate over 100,000 American casualities in an invasion of the Japanese home islands, with equally disasterous results for the Japanese civillian population.

    I view the dropping of the bombs as a tragic necessity, and I reject historical revisionism that questions the way in which the war was ended while ignoring the hard truth that those who made the decisions made them with a necessarily limited range of knowledge and understanding.

    •  "Thank God for the Atom Bomb" (8+ / 0-)

      by Paul Fussel, who was an infanrtey grunt getting ready to invade the Home Islands after a hellesh tour of Europe.
      Bugscuffle says: Check it out!

    •  Thoughtful analysis (10+ / 0-)

      I am divided on the issue.  While the point you make is good, something still bothers me.  I had a professor (Paul Kuroda, the nuclear chemist) who personally told me that he had already been issued his sharpened bamboo stick and had been trained to use it against the Marines on the beach.  He was 15 at the time.  He also told me that he greatly admired Truman for having the courage to use the weapon.

      That carries a lot of weight, since he was there and told me that he would have impaled as many Marines as he could before being killed.  Most folks in the here and now do not appreciate the determination of the Japanese.  One must remember that they were fighting for God in human form (the Emperor).

      I have a problem, however, with Sherman-like war practices.  The same argument can be made against the carpet bombing of Dresden, and the lesser-known carpet bombing of Tokyo and many other Japanese cities.  It us just wrong to target predominately civilian populations in military campaigns.  Call me an idealist, or worse, if you wish, but I just think it is wrong.

      I wonder if a similar impact could have been made on the Soviets if the devices had been dropped in uninhabited areas and films distributed?  I do not know, but probably not.  For one thing, there was essentially no television, so only a limited audience would have seen it, and the information would have come out in dribs and drabs.  

      Once again, I am very conflicted with this issue.  As an American, I feel sort of personally responsible that the only time nuclear devices were used to kill people was at the hand of my Nation.  I guess I just think it is wrong to kill folks who are in no way connected to a conflict inflicted on them by their leaders, except that they were in the proper place at the proper time, just trying to live.

      Forgive the clumsiness of this explanation, but without clarity of opinion, it is difficult to explain feelings about the issue.

      Finally, I find it horrible that Tibbets never showed any kind of sympathy, let alone remorse, for the scores of thousands of deaths for which he was responsible.  Perhaps it was a defensive mechanism to that he would not experience the absolute horror of his actions.  Perhaps it was just that he did not care.  I do not know.  What I do know is that I have some remorse in his stead.  Regards, Doc.

      •  I won't judge him, or Truman. (8+ / 0-)

        As a student of military history, I agree with Sherman.  He was right about war.  You can't make it anything but what it is.  Once commenced, it should be horrible.  

        Because everyone has one. Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

        by SpamNunn on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:42:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree that it is horrible (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SpamNunn

          What we all must do is learn from the horror and find better ways to resolve conflicts.

          I am not very optimistic.  When I was little I used to have a dream of skin-clad cavemen (eerily like the GEICO cavemen) with their fingers on nuclear triggers.  I believe that the interpretation is that we are much smarter than we were 50,000 years ago, but not much wiser.

          Oil is the issue at present.  That will pass, because it eventually be depleted.  Just wait until water becomes the issue.  I never cared to the taste of petroleum, but I like drinking water.

          Unless we find a cheap method of energy production, so as to utilize seawater, I have a very disturbing feeling that we have not seen conflict yet.  To clarify, it is energy intensive to desalinate seawater, but that is what the planet will have to do if we have any expectation of maintaining a population over the carrying capacity of the environment.  Only the flow of energy through the system can organize the system.  Regards, Doc.

        •  Trouble now, you got me to thinking! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Foxwizard, SpamNunn

          Lots of human situations were explored in the original "Star Trek" series.  There was an episode called "A Taste of Armageddon" in which the Enterprise was warned off of a planet, but upon detecting no weapons, entered orbit anyway.

          The crew found out that that planet and its neighbor were are war, and it was all a computer simulation.  Rather than destroy infrastructure, the computer models assembled a list of human (well, whatever species they were) casualties and they dutifully reported to dematerialization chambers to be killed.  In that way, the ones who remained were fine, the infrastructure was fine, and the war continued for the past 500 years.

          Well, Kirk threw a fit when he found out that the Enterprise became a casualty.  In his cowboy diplomatic way, he destroyed the computer link with the other planet, triggering the certainty of actual war, with weapons of actual mass destruction.

          The bottom line is that both planets recognized that a real war is horrible, and entered into diplomatic relations to avoid it.

          I know this is a little far out, but please bear with me.  Perhaps what you said about Sherman is correct.  By limiting the horror of war, war itself becomes more palatable.  You may have a good point.  As a little background, you must know that my Mum was a rabid Confederate apologist, so my mind is not always as open as it should be.  You opened it a bit tonight, and I thank you for that.

          Now, what do we do to improve things?  Warmest regards, Doc.

          •  I don't know. Start by reading (0+ / 0-)

            The Art of War in Western Civilization by Archer Jones and some Clausewitz.   Lots of interesting analysis of the use of the horror of war to prevent war.

            Because everyone has one. Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

            by SpamNunn on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:18:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Strangely, I think we did (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RubDMC

            The Cold War had several opportunities to turn 'Hot', but the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) kept both sides the US and the USSR from going to blows with one another.

            Sherman's point, as you see, along with Clauswitze and a good many others, was that ware IS hell, and that sheltering people from that truth only encouraged it.

            We are capable of changing the terms of our international relations: the 30 years' war and the 100 years' war, as well as the English Revolution, were faught largely over religious issues. Thus the framers of our constitution took religion out of the political sphere; Europe followed suit in the 20th century, and it's worked well (so far).

            I don't condemn Tibbits' attitude because it is the necessary attitude of the warrior. Warriors have an awful, but altogether too necessary job.

            Martin Luther, about ten years after he kicked off the Reformation era, was asked about a soldier's standing with God. It was kind of a round-about way of asking about the justice of War.

            His response, like Augustine's, was that wars that are necessary to defend innocents or to overcome aggression are just; but wars of oppourtunity are unjust. This is a distinction that, I think, we forget at our peril.

            It's the story of the school-yard bully. The small kids have to have somebody big to stand up to the bully so they can enjoy the playground. Thus the need for warriors.

            What we are visiting in this discussion is the fine line between idealism and ideology. Idealism is good and necessary, but ideological purity in the pursuit of peace leaves the innocents of the world open to the depradations of the bullies. In this discussion, context matters.

      •  It had to be done (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justanothernyer

        I think you are being unfair to Tibbets. It wasn't him that caused those deaths any more than Henry Ford is responsible for killing millions with his automobiles.

        I'm pretty sure the carpet bombing of Tokyo killed more that the atomic bomb but those pilots remain for the most part largely unnamed.

        We denounce terrorism for the sheer randomness and ruthlessness it usually assumes. Dropping a bomb from a plane is no different; you yell "bombs away" and hope that they kill people. Despite what the military says, American bombs still reach the ground in places not deserving.

        Wars always start strategic and move into civilian areas. WWII was hideously brutal. The Russian sweep into Berlin was done with such rage and hatred of the Germans that even German children would be targeted by tank fire or purposely driven over by tanks.

        The US has a long history of practicing the brutal acts that we are told to condemn. What conclusion can be reached by us giving Saddam chemical weapons technology? Did we give it to him because we didn't want him to use it? That's nonsense.

        We don't use chemical weapons in war; they kill people in minutes. Instead we like to peel off their skin with napalm so they suffer first. Gives them some time to think about the sin of being born.

        B.T.W. it's all chemicals.

        I would argue that the use of the A-bomb was one of the smarter things done. It most likely really did save lives in the end.

        Here's a philosophical question: what if Hitler also cured cancer?

        For extra credit, what if you found out you had cancer and knew he was the one who cured it?

        I was happiest as a heathen.

        by MouseOfSuburbia on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:32:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I guess you suggesting that the Japanese populace (0+ / 0-)

        was just minding its own business, and it was the Emperor's magic wand that was producing the bullets, ships, planes, rucksacks, war making imperative, etc.

        Conversely, Rosie the Riveter was just as valid a target as MacArthur, and if the Japanese could have found a way to target her, they surely would have.

    •  You're NOT trolling, speaking a painful truth (5+ / 0-)

      The resistance of Japan was relentless as the Island hopping battles attest to.  An invasion of Japan would have caused far greater loss of life amongst Japanese, Americans and Russians.  Maybe, just maybe throwing Japan the bone of keeping the emperor after the 1st bomb might have resulted in surrender then but given the past history of the war, the need for total surrender was painfully apparent.  Harry Truman didn't have the luxury of knowing how it would all turn out in the end before he decided.

      •  Even after the Emperor made the decision to (5+ / 0-)

        surrender, some in the Japanese military attempted a coup d'etat in order to continue the war.  

        My father drove an ammo truck in the re-invasion of the Philippines and was preparing for the invasion of the home islands.  With that occupation, I doubt he would have lasted very long (He was lucky to survive the Philippines invasion-I always trusted my Dad's driving all his life, btw.) So, without the bomb, I doubt if my siblings and I would be here today.

        "It's hip to be miserable when you're young and intellectual."--Carly Simon

        by Buckeye Terry on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:51:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Emperor didn't surrender after first bomb (3+ / 0-)

          My father was stationed in the Philippines too and was headed for the invasion of Japan. He said he knew that he and thousands of his fellow soldiers didn't stand  a chance of surviving.  

          Remember, the Emperor didn't surrender after the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Truman, Marshall, et al waited to see if he would but he didn't. The Japanese gov't must have known the devastation of what had happened and yet, they still didn't budge. So, three days later another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

          I disagree with previous poster about bombs being dropped on civilian targets. Hiroshima and Nagasaki had considerable military installations and war making material.

          As Truman said, if he had not used the bombs and thousands of young men died in an invasion, how would the American people have reacted when they found out that a weapon WAS available to end the war and he hadn't used it?

          •  You are correct (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Proud SW FL Lib, Foxwizard

            Even after the destruction of Hiroshima, the Japanese government failed to surrender.  So, a second bomb was dropped.  Why would anyone think a bomb dropped on a deserted island would force the Japanese government to surrender when the bomb dropped on one its major cities failed to bring about a surrender?

            And yes, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were major military and armaments centers, some what like Cleveland and Pittsburgh at the time.

            As Truman said, if he had not used the bombs and thousands of young men died in an invasion, how would the American people have reacted when they found out that a weapon WAS available to end the war and he hadn't used it?

            Absolutely correct.  Truman probably would have been impeached, if not outright lynched.

            In 2007, those who didn't live through WWII, (and I didn't) don't understand that WWII was TOTAL War.  And the idea that the military didn't target civilians until the Civil War is just historical ignorance.  Civilians have always been targeted in warfare.  Cities, for example, have been under siege since Biblical times

            "It's hip to be miserable when you're young and intellectual."--Carly Simon

            by Buckeye Terry on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 06:39:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I would tend to agree... (0+ / 0-)

      I think that there are better examples of wanton destruction that came from WWII. The firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo come to mind. They both killed thousands and thousands of civilians with no other objective than to instill fear into the population.

      I truly believe that the nuclear bombs were dropped with more consideration and better reasoning than those two attacks...

      Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity, only not as much fun.

      by Toktora on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:28:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Truly a difficult decision to discuss (9+ / 0-)

    As someone of both Japanese and American descent, it's a topic that I have never been able to fully make my mind up on.

    It's hard, though, to visit Hiroshima like I did several years back, see the dome of the industrial hall - the only building to survive the bombing - and to come away thinking that it was worth it.

    "I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." -Paul Wellstone

    by PsiFighter37 on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:13:49 PM PDT

  •  Tibbets had a job to do (10+ / 0-)

      and he did it. He saved millions of lives by dropping that bomb, and avoiding an invasion of Japan by American forces...in which it was estimated that up to 1 million American lives would be lost. Not counting the millions of Japanese that would also die.

      Those arguing that we should never have dropped the bomb have NEVER been able to counter that argument. Truman gave the correct order, and Tibbets carried it out well. Godspeed Colonel Tibbets!! We owe you a debt of gratitude!!!!

    •  Have you ever discussed it with anyone (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayBat

      of the opinion that the Soviet Union's repudiation Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact in April 1945 and declaring war on Japan might have had a lot to do with ending the war.  Maybe even more than the Atomic bombs, or even the fire-bombing of Tokyo that killed more people than the A-bomb?

      I don't know exactly what made the Japanese surrender.  But I know it was complicated.  And I also don't forget the damage done by the fire-bombing. How can you say conclusively that it was "the" bomb?

      dubya dubya dubya dot liar dot con

      by TexH on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:26:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have (7+ / 0-)

          actually. And its nonsense. Had we not dropped the bomb on Japan, hell, had we simply walked away (impossible given the situation, but lets just say), the Soviets would've picked up, and continued the war. We then would have had to deal with a USSR furious that their "allies" weren't helping them and witnessing their slaughter of the Japanese people.
          Either way, the bomb stopped EVERYONE. It stopped the Japanese, who were forced to surrender. It saved many American and Japanese lives from the potential invasion. It also showed Stalin that he damn well better not invade after the war was over.

          The bomb was the correct decision, though also a tragic one. Anyone saying that Truman could have and should have found another way to end the war either don't know the facts, or don't care about the facts.  

        •  So your saying (0+ / 0-)

          The Soviet invasion of Manchuria in August 1945 had nothing to do with it.  I think it was a little of both, really.  The bomb stunned everyone, sure, but Japan was also looking at a massive Soviet invasion, too.  And do you really support your argument by the insane "what if" we walked away?  C'mon.

          dubya dubya dubya dot liar dot con

          by TexH on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:50:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  IIRC, the Soviets made the decision to enter the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            redcardphreek

            war against Japan at the Potsdam Conference, at the urging of Truman and Churchill/Atlee.  The Soviets had argued previously that they were too tied down in Europe to fight against Japan.

            The split with the USSR was just beginning in the summer of 1945.  Don't confuse 1948 with 1945.

            "It's hip to be miserable when you're young and intellectual."--Carly Simon

            by Buckeye Terry on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:56:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  actually i think (0+ / 0-)

              The Soviets agreed at the Yalta Conference in early '45.  That agreement was used to bolster the Postdam Declaration in the Summer of 1945 laying out surrender terms.

              dubya dubya dubya dot liar dot con

              by TexH on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:09:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Paul Tibbetts was a good soldier who did (16+ / 0-)

    a terrible deed when asked to do so for what he was told was the good of his country.  For that, he answers to God and God alone.  Maybe that's how he handled that burden, by convincing himself he felt nothing.  I can't imagine having to bear that burden.  May he find eternal peace.

    Because everyone has one. Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

    by SpamNunn on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:20:21 PM PDT

  •  I honour the suffering of the mother (8+ / 0-)

    of one of my best friends, who survived Hiroshima, but most of whose family did not.

      A Truly Sad Day For Humanity

      For Yoshi,
      Heather

    •  Ending WWII. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      redcardphreek, Justanothernyer

      The Japanese were killing 70,000 Chinese a week at the end of WWII. Most of those dead were civilians.  I truly believe that the atomic weapons were necessary to end the war and stop that killing.  How many more weeks would you have wanted the killing in China to continue? How many Americans would you have been willing to sacrifice to end the war.

      I am OK with the decision to drop the bombs and Col Tibbett's role in it.

      11/7/06. America won. The Republicans lost. Our duty is to earn that trust.

      by Dave from Oregon on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:59:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  my step father bombed germany and ended up with (9+ / 0-)

    PTSD from it, he also did what he was told to do, but he had a concious, the bombing of the civilian towns bothered him  he knew they weren't all falling on military targets

    each man processes the choices he is forced to make in war differently  some can easily explain away the choices and some spend the rest of their life suffering for them

    who's the  better man I have been to war twice and I still can't tell you  you do what you have to do

    •  should everyone have to suffer? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, MouseOfSuburbia

      the first day of Desert Storm, the unit I was with bombed Baghdad.  That night, I saw the munitions people bringing cluster bombs to the flightline, and I realized that we were bombing people, not much reason to use cluster bombs otherwise.  Actually, the other use for cluster bombs is to distribute mines, which is obviously a rather nasty business.  But every morning when our jets launched, I just thought of those Iraqis out in the desert, in foxholes, and how a lot of them weren't going home.  I doubt there were many people affected the same way, but I wonder about the pilots.

  •  I salute Paul Tibbets ... (10+ / 0-)

    He was a defender of freedom and did what he had to do.

    Right or wrong, the choice was not his to make.

  •  Albert Einstein blamed Truman (5+ / 0-)

    After the war, Einstein protested the incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fred Jerome cites a 1946 interview with the London Sunday Express, in which Einstein "blamed the atomic bombing of Japan on [President] Truman’s anti-Soviet foreign policy" and expressed the opinion that "if FDR had lived through the war, Hiroshima would never have been bombed." Jerome notes that the interview was immediately added to Einstein’s growing FBI file.

    http://72.14.209.104/...

    Leo Szilar who initiated bomb research in 1939 argued:

    "Let me say only this much to the moral issue involved: Suppose Germany had developed two bombs before we had any bombs. And suppose Germany had dropped one bomb, say, on Rochester and the other on Buffalo, and then having run out of bombs she would have lost the war. Can anyone doubt that we would then have defined the dropping of atomic bombs on cities as a war crime, and that we would have sentenced the Germans who were guilty of this crime to death at Nuremberg and hanged them."

    The US goverment tried to censor the deadly after effects of the bomb.  

    Burchett scooped the world when he eluded censors who confiscated his camera but failed to stop his telex. His first account from ground zero, banner headlined in the London Daily Express on September 5, 1945, told the world about the radiation that was the most mysterious and terrifying consequence of the atomic bomb.

    The report prompted damage control measures by the US, which sought to reaffirm an official narrative that downplayed civilian casualties, flatly denied reports of deadly radiation and its lingering effects, and accused the reporter of falling for Japanese propaganda.

    Doctors in Hiroshima had told Burchett about the major symptoms of radiation, and their helplessness to treat it. "At first we treated burns as we would any others, but patients just wasted away and died. Then people without a mark on them, including some not even here when the Bomb exploded, fell sick and died. For no apparent reason their health began to fail. They lost their appetite, their hair began to fall out, bluish spots appeared on their bodies and bleeding started from the nose, mouth and eyes. ... And in every case the patient dies ... there is nothing we can do about it."

    http://japanfocus.org/...

    The bombing was an act of terrorism.

    terrorism--- The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

    "I'm living in an age that calls darkness light" Arcade Fire

    by AbsurdEyes on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:37:09 PM PDT

    •  Many of the people who worked on the bomb... (4+ / 0-)

      fell into depression. Oppie was well documented and never really recovered.

      Dick Feynman was said to have driven around for days and was daylight hallucinating mushroom clouds (he saw Trinity). Feynman raced to the initial conclusion that, because it cannot be uninvented, countries would be going all out to build a-bombs for immediate use on cities.

      As far as radiation, they really were naive back then. Speaking of Feynman, he developed all kinds of exotic cancers before he died, but like many others at Los Alimos, he had handled all kinds of materials using only rubber gloves for protection.

      I was happiest as a heathen.

      by MouseOfSuburbia on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:44:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My father worked on the Manhattan Project (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RubDMC, johnnygunn, fiddler crabby

        at the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago and years later he ultimately fell into a debilitating depression that disabled him the rest of his life.  I never thought about whether working on the Project could have contributed to his illness.  I figured it was just having to support 9 kids!

        BTW, my father was once overexposed to radiation when he dropped some radioactive material on the floor that rolled under a desk.  He had to reach under the desk to get it.  He had to wear some sort of radiation badge that measured his daily exposure, and after that incident he was furloughed for 4 weeks or so to Minneapolis to get away from the lab because he had been overexposed.  Minneapolis was not his home, so he basically had to handle it on his own and he was forbidden to speak of his experience to anyone (because everything was "top secret").

        •  Thank you very much for sharing that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RubDMC

          Given the compressed time frame, the sheer scale, the danger, and all the unknowns, the Manhattan Project was the preeminent science endeavor of all time. So much pure theory had to be translated into working production that it boggles my mind that it worked. The marriage of metallurgy (and chemistry in general) with that of physics was, and probably still is unprecedented.

          I never thought about that; it must have been very difficult for the insiders to discuss the import of what took place. On the one hand, it was a display of mans phenomenal ability to come together and solve seemingly insurmountable obstacles. On the other hand, the effort was for the destruction of other people.

          But I firmly believe it saved a lot of people in the end.

          I'm sorry to hear about your dad. Depression is a terrible thing to experience, and not just for the person suffering with it.

          I was happiest as a heathen.

          by MouseOfSuburbia on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 08:46:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for your thoughts. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RubDMC

            My father felt significant guilt about his (minor) role in the Manhattan Project for the rest of his life.  He signed Dr. Leo Szilard's petition, and he and others resigned from the Project at some point after the two bombs were dropped on Japan.

            But one of my father's best friends always told him that he (his friend) very well may not have survived the war but for the bombings.  His friend was a soldier on a ship steaming towards Japan when the bombs were dropped.  While this gave some comfort to my father, I don't think it assuaged his guilt.

            The issue is complex, and I am not sure that I know the right answer. I do know that my father was haunted by the use of atomic bombs against citizens of Japan.

            My father was a very religious man.  He once quoted some scientist - I don't know whether he knew the scientist (I doubt it) - who I believe worked on the bomb and witnessed the Trinity test.  The quote went something like this and was spoken after witnessing the test:  "I now know what it really means to have sinned."  I think that may have summed up how my father felt.

            •  I add my thanks to you... (0+ / 0-)

              ...for sharing your stories about your dad. They've helped make this topic, which can seem so big and remote and unknowable, much more immediate and rich.

              I wrote this diary on impulse. I had sat down for a few minutes while making dinner, and my wife had the TV on to some network news program (which I never watch) when I heard word of Tibbet's death. I pieced this together in a very short time from the flood of thoughts that came to me with this news.

              The response was overwhelming, with a huge range of sincere and well-expressed comments. Thanks for adding yours.

              I'm very sorry for your dad's suffering.

  •  I saw documentaries about that mission (0+ / 0-)

    and they all came away with anguish for their part in it, at least they said they did.  I can't believe that Tibbetts felt nothing.  


    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:40:55 PM PDT

  •  God Help Us All - (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RubDMC, FelisRufus

    Necessary??

    What ever happened to the concept of war crimes.
    The United States was a signatory to the Hague Conventions under which many Nazi and Japanese "war criminals" were later tried in Nuremberg and Tokyo.  "Crimes Against Humanity" was the leading charge against the defendants.

    So, there is nothing revisionist here.  Those who judge Hiroshima differently are using the same yardstick that the victorious allies used against the defeated Axis nations.

    Although the goal of the advocates of use of the atomic bomb may have been to reduce casualties - both American and Japanese - the prevailing international legal standards prior to World War II were that the intentional targeting of civilians was a war crime.

    Since the Trinity Test had been successful and the destructive force of the atomic bomb had been roughly calculated, it was clearly understood that despite any peripheral military targets in Hiroshima, the vast majority of casualties would be civilian.  Thus, there was clear intent.

    Finally, in any legal action that involves deadly force, there is the duty to retreat - i.e. to avoid using deadly force if alternatives exist.  Given the complete collapse of any effective Japanese air or naval power by August 1945, the United States clearly had the ability to demonstrate the destructive power of the atomic bomb.

    Had this have failed, then, perhaps there would have been greater legal justification to use the atomic bomb on military targets, but this course of events was never followed.

    Did Japan and Germany commit brutal war crimes?
    Yes, absolutely.

    But that does not exonerate the United States from responsibility for its actions.

    •  See Okinawa (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Foxwizard, Justanothernyer

      Only a few months before and the amount of casualties that happened during that campaign.

      Amplify them greatly.

      The Japanese were still launching kamikaze missions after the bombs had been dropped. They were hoarding planes for that very purpose.

      Now you know why we dropped the bombs.

      •  how much resistance (0+ / 0-)

        did MacArthur meet when he sent in the Occupation troops?  

      •  Military Forces Take Casualties in War - (0+ / 0-)

        That is and was the international legal definition.
        It was and remains a war crime to reduce one's own military casualties
        by targeting civilians.

        •  I think the more rhetorical question is... (3+ / 0-)

          would we have reduced civilian casualties by invading?

          I think the answer would be no. There would have been far more people dead. But that is the whole nature of the debate I guess....

          Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity, only not as much fun.

          by Toktora on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:45:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Ahh (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Foxwizard

          so Truman should have waited for the Japanese surrender, not received it, invaded, and told the American people that he possibly had a weapon that would have prevented the bloodbath, but morally it was 'evil' to do so?

          •  Did We? (0+ / 0-)

            Do a demonstration first?

            Defenders of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem to know exactly how events would have transpired - although that certainly didn't prove tru for McNamara in Vietnam or Rumsfeld in Iraq.

            I do not know how events would have transpired.  I do know that there were horrendous casualties on Okinawa - 12,000 U.S., 60,000 Japanese, and 150,000 civilians killed. Thus, there were more civilian casualties than U.S. and Japanese military combined.

            But I also know that the Soviet Union had declared war on Japan and that Japan's position in China, Korea, and the Kuriles was untenable.  Given the choice of American or Soviet occupation (which the Japanese already were aware of in Germany) Japanese leaders preferred the American option.

            SO one cannot say for certain that a compelling demonstration would have been rejected out of hand.  But - I repeat - the demonstration was never done.

            •  We agree to disagree (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              johnnygunn

              nice to have a rational disagreement with someone for a change.

              I personally do not see a demonstration of the bomb changing Japan's mind, but we will never know. I still think Japan's conditions, such as Japan trying its own war criminals would have been unacceptable to the American public.

            •  Then why was there no surrender after (0+ / 0-)

              Hiroshima?

              •  Hiroshima - (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RubDMC

                Was hardly a demonstration.

                If you have any understanding of Japanese culture -
                To surrender after such a horrendous attack would have been deeply shaming.
                The issue of honor would have been fundamentally different had there have been a true demonstration.

                I am reminded of the lack of knowledge of Iraqi culture by our state department and pro-war generals.

                Sun Tzu said, "Know your enemy."
                Unfortunately, American leaders, perhaps because of racism, believed that the Japanese were incapable of attacking Pearl Harbor.  In addition, they had little knowledge of the bushido code or of the importance and meaning of the chrysanthemum throne.  If Truman would have given assurances that the throne would be preserved, then the last weeks of war might have been avoided altogether.

    •  Please read about the battle for Okinawaq (0+ / 0-)

      before you go spouting off about war crimes. Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were heavily industrialzed, armory cities. They were military targets.

      The crimes the Nazis were convicted of were very different in nature: their actions in no way were strategic or tactical; they were genocidal in intent, design and execution.

      Finally, in any legal action that involves deadly force, there is the duty to retreat - i.e. to avoid using deadly force if alternatives exist.

      The ability to retreat evaporated the moment the first bomb fell on Pearl Harbor. To have retreated would have meant leaving the Japanese military empire in place, so that it could once again wreak devastation, rape and pillage across Asia.

      There is a lot of moral gray area in war, and the simplistic moralism displayed by revisionists doesn't meet the common sense test for me.

  •  Let's not forget the firebombings... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnnygunn, Nulwee, palantir

    after dropping 1665 tons of napalm filled bombs on Tokyo on March 10, 1945, killing an estimated 100,000 people, and carrying out subsequent attacks during the spring and summer of 45, I don't think that initially the atomic bombs seemed any more ghastly than "conventional" bombing.  

    As to any guilt anyone should have felt, in the gap between the bombs being dropped and reporters reaching Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Sept 12th, I believe), there were almost daily horror stories in the press about the mistreatment of American POWS, including  revelations that the POWS were used as guinea pigs for medical experimentation; the stories were deliberately planted by MacArthur to distract attention from the bombs.      

  •  this is an interesting discussion this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RubDMC, Foxwizard

    diary has generated.  both sides have valid points.  my point would be the actions of all sides in ww2 are all reasons to do everything possible to avoid war.  war should be the very last option.  it should NOT be the first thing out of the quiver as our current Asshat believes.  when war starts, rules and humanity go by the wayside.

    Capt. Spaulding: "How happy I could be with either of these two if both of them just went away."

    by ratador on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:24:11 PM PDT

  •  "But the bombs had to be delivered" - Oh Really!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnnygunn

    YIKES!!!
    What is the world coming to? What?

    The War Mentality has taking hold ... firmly.

    And someone head to it it? Had to do it????

    "I can assure you that I can sleep just as peacefully at night as anybody can sleep....""

    I bet you did. For 92 years.

    And you know what? I believe him, too.

    Sometimes one just doesn't have enough tears for one day.

    Just watched "Die Moerder sind unter uns," German film from 1945 w. Hildegard Knef, probably the earliest post-War II German film I have ever seen. The crimes and the human suffering, it wasn't all spelled out in detail - but it was easy to read between the lines anyway.

    Berlin was one huge pile of rubble, people digging themselves out of it ... Was heartbreaking and terrible all at the same time.

    I was just taking a break ... when I heard the news about this monster who dropped the bomb on the innocent Japanese citizens. I have seen documentaries of that, too.

    I didn't sleep, btw.after that.

    What a strange coincidence.

    •  Thank You - (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FelisRufus

      For adding some needed perspective.

    •  When I wrote "the bombs had to be delivered..." (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnnygunn, Justanothernyer

      ...I was referring to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as acts of intention.

      The bombs did not get to their targets of their own volition - they were taken there because a decision was made to take them there.

      And Tibbets headed up the mission.

    •  Sorry, I can't buy your argument (0+ / 0-)

      The best warriors hate war, but wage it as effectively as they can so people will remember how horrible it is and NOT DO IT.

      Once war starts, almost anything can and will happen, thus Shakepeare spoke of 'loosing the dogs of war'. The choices are reduced to the lesser of evils, and the option for peace has disapeared until the aggressor quits or has been defeated.

      The Japanese were not about to quit.

      Call Tibbets a monster if you must, but the man's action on that last mission saved a million or more lives.

  •  Good on ya Truman (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Foxwizard, Justanothernyer

    and God speed Col. Tibbets.

    The "Japs" were disgustingly brutal and showed no remorse as they slaughtered, sliced, and burned hundreds of thousands of people, troops and civilians after their sneak attack at Pearl Harbor. I agree with the decision and I would support it again today. The WWII Pacific Theater vets I speak with, mostly on Ft. Lewis, to this day--in most cases--hate the "Japs" of that war.

    Truman and Tibbets and FDR and that generation are true heros. We owe them everything we have.

    I salute the crew of the Enola Gay on this day.

    Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

    by ToxicTidepool on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:39:51 PM PDT

  •  Blessed Be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    noweasels, SpamNunn

    I would not have wanted to spend a moment in Paul Tibbets' shoes. It is not my place to judge the man. I know that he has requested no funeral, that the place where he will be buried not be revealed and that he be buried in an unmarked grave. His reasons were that he did not want his grave site to become a place for demonstrations. I find this profoundly sad.

    May the Goddess guard him on his journey to the Summerlands. May his family and friends find peace. Blessed Be.

    "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes" Wm. Shakespeare, "Macbeth"

    by TheMomCat on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:47:06 PM PDT

  •  So much death. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheMomCat, SpamNunn

    I recently watched Ken Burns' documentary on WWII with my mother, who lived through it, and who still cries when she hears the Canadian National Anthem because the first funeral she ever attended was for a friend, who was shot down and killed while serving in the RAF.  She had a very difficult time watching it.  So did I.

    I visited the Arizona Memorial with my Dad (a Navy pilot) 20 years ago.  We said nothing while we were there; neither did anyone else.

    The battles in the Pacific were so horrifying -- the cruelty so extreme.  A few years ago, I was in the parking lot of the Px at the HQ of the Pacific Fleet.  On one of the cars was a license plate indicating that its owner was a survivor of the Bataan Death March.  I tried to help the man whose car it was with his groceries, and I thanked him for his service.  I cannot imagine what THAT must have been like.

    Nor can I imagine what it must have been like to have been in Hiroshima that August day: "Men in black-striped shirts were burned in strips. Heat stenciled dress figures onto the bodies of women." From John Hersey's Hiroshima, published in The New Yorker. (If you have not read this article, you should. I have looked for a link for it, but I cannot find one.  It was subsequently published as a book.)

    So many victims.  I have such incredibly mixed feelings about this horror, because of the horrors that would surely have followed had this particular horror not happened.

    Bless them all.  

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    Thank you, RubDMC, for this thought-provoking diary.

    1-20-09 The Darkness Ends "Where cruelty exists, law does not." ~ Alberto Mora

    by noweasels on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:50:48 PM PDT

  •  Roosevelt's Statement of September 1. 1939 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RubDMC

    Appeal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Aerial Bombardment of Civilian Populations, September 1, 1939

    The President of the United States to the Governments of France, Germany, Italy, Poland and His Britannic Majesty, September 1, 1939

    The ruthless bombing from the air of civilians in unfortified centers of population during the course of the hostilities which have raged in various quarters of the earth during the past few years, which has resulted in the maiming and in the death of thousands of defenseless men, women, and children, has sickened the hearts of every civilized man and woman, and has profoundly shocked the conscience of humanity.

    If resort is had to this form of inhuman barbarism during the period of the tragic conflagration with which the world is now confronted, hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings who have no responsibility for, and who are not even remotely participating in, the hostilities which have now broken out, will lose their lives. I am therefore addressing this urgent appeal to every government which may be engaged in hostilities publicly to affirm its determination that its armed forces shall in no event, and under no circumstances, undertake the bombardment from the air of civilian populations or of unfortified cities, upon the understanding that these same rules of warfare will be scrupulously observed by all of their opponents. I request an immediate reply.

                                    FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

    http://www.dannen.com/...

  •  My dad was on Hiroshima in Oct 1945 (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RubDMC, johnnygunn, noweasels, lcork, CParis, eastmt

    He told some stories of what he saw there while on liberty in the US Navy. My family has one photo that shows the devastation. We must prevent the people in charge of our government from trumping up reasons to use nukes.

  •  My religion teaches the blessing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RubDMC, lcork

    of forgiveness.  It also teaches the blessing of asking for forgiveness.

    World War II resulted in the deaths of 72 million people -- the majority of them civilians.

    I weep for all of the innocent victims.

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    1-20-09 The Darkness Ends "Where cruelty exists, law does not." ~ Alberto Mora

    by noweasels on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 06:33:04 PM PDT

  •  I met Tibbets... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RubDMC, lcork, Foxwizard

    ...once, briefly, in 2003.  At a trade show, he was autographing his book, "Enola Gay."  I bought the book and got the autograph.

    I also thanked him for doing his duty as a soldier in a time of war, telling him I probably wouldn't be here if wasn't for his efforts.

    You see, my father enlisted in the Marines, fresh out of high school, in early 1942.  He served on Guadalcanal in 1943-44, then rotated back to San Diego where his unit was trained on a new aircraft.  He and my mother wed a few days after D-Day, in June 1944.

    In early August 1945, my father was aboard the escort carrier Salerno Bay, headed for Okinawa and the invasion of Japan.  Thankfully, Paul Tibbets' successful mission meant my father -- and yours or your grandfather -- didn't have to face Japan in that final assault.

    Today, my father's ashes rest at Arlington Cemetery outside Washington.

    Those of us who were not yet born do not understand the deprivations and hopelessness of the U.S. in the timeframe shortly after Pearl Harbor.  We also cannot comprehend the sacrifice citizens made -- in labor, treasure and blood -- during WWII.  Gas rationing, no meat, hoarding scrap metal, no new cars being built, friends and families living together because no one could afford housing.  (Of course, this was the tail-end of the Great Depression.)  These were just some of the realities at that time.

    Boys and young men forfeited their lives, never to grow old and know that for which they really were fighting for.  Just as they are today, for much less-worthy causes.

    We can argue the value and propriety of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the rest of our lives.  Nothing will change the fact that Tibbets and his bomber squadron brought that war to a much quicker ending than otherwise might have been the case.  He and his crews saved tens of thousands of lives on both sides -- perhaps more than a million.  We'll never know.

    And that's my bottom line.  Without Tibbets and his squadron's missions, things might have turned out much differently.  He was the right guy at the right time.  Thankfully, he was there and did his duty to the best of his ability.  Without him, none of us might be around to bitch about it.

    DCr

    "Someday this war's gonna end..." -- Robert Duvall as Lt. Col. Kilgore in "Apocalypse Now."

    by DCrefugee on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 07:17:04 PM PDT

  •  My husband is a docent at the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RubDMC, Foxwizard

    Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center - the Air & Space Museum "annex" near Dulles airport, where the Enola Gay is now on permanent exhibition.  He meets a lot of interesting people.

    Within sight of the Enola Gay is a little Japanese aircraft - it's basically a bomb with a seat for a pilot.  I believe these aircraft were intended to be launched from submarines.  They were one-way aircraft.  

    An elderly Japanese gentleman came to the museum one day, I'm not sure whether he spoke with my husband or to one of his fellow docents.  He looked at the Japanese aircraft and then at the Enola Gay and then said "the Enola Gay saved my life.  I was scheduled for a mission (on one of the Japanese aircraft) but then the bombs were dropped and the war ended."  Words to that effect - I wasn't there, I only heard the story second hand.  Still, it sends chills up my spine.  I'm not even sure I know what to think or feel about such a story.

    'The votes are in, and we won.' - Jim Webb

    by lcork on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 08:11:51 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site