I am one of Chris Muir’s legions of admirers. This graphic helps explain why:
Other versions are floating around too:
Here’s the thing that the progressives in media and government want to hide from you: The federal government is America’s servant, not its master. This means that the National Park Service is a caretaker, not an owner. To the extent it is denying people access to outdoor monuments (including blocking the roadside vista points from which drivers can see Mt. Rushmore), it is grossly overstepping its bounds.
While the Mt. Rushmore barrycades are the most graphic example of the federal government’s failure to understand that it is the American people’s employee, the most disgusting example is the way the National Park Service has spent tens of thousands of dollars (during a shutdown) to barricade the World War II Memorial, an open air park, in Washington, D.C. The purpose is to prevent members of the World War II generation, sometimes called “the Greatest Generation,” from having access to a memorial honoring their courage and their dead during the battles across Europe, the Pacific, and the Mediterranean during World War II.
Those men and women from the Greatest Generation who are still living have overcome enormous physical, financial, and emotional challenges to visit their monument – a monument built to honor them and their comrades, and that sits on public land that the American people have allowed the federal government to care for. And what does the caretaker do? In a grotesque example of spite, it uses its power – the power we gave it – to block the veterans. No wonder the men who stormed Iwo Jima and fought the Battle of the Bulge, even though they’re in their 80s and 90s, thought nothing of storming Obama’s barrycades.
And speaking of the World War II memorial serving as an example of the federal government’s arrogant overreach and cruelty, HBO’s Bill Maher is the poster child for the arrogant viciousness behind that attitude:
The other thing that apparently was so important for the Republicans to keep open was the World War II Memorial in Washington. That was closed, so a bunch of the World War II vets knocked down the barriers and stormed it.
And then I loved this, they posed for pictures with Michele Bachmann who showed up. Michele Bachmann, one of the people most responsible for shutting the fucking thing down. They’re the greatest generation – nobody said they were the brightest generation.
This is not only cruel, but it’s a gross misstatement of what’s going on: Republicans in the House, exercising their constitutionally granted “power of the purse,” have offered repeatedly to fund every aspect of the federal government except for Obamacare. (Incidentally, Obamacare’s opening days have proven that it is not ready for prime time and may never be.) Democrats from Obama on down have responded by refusing to fund the government and by trying to bludgeon the American people into thinking that the House’s constitutional conduct is somehow “illegal.”
In a perfect world, people all across America would engage in massive civil disobedience by doing such radical things as viewing Mt. Rushmore, standing at the stone-carved feet of Lincoln and Jefferson as they sit in stately dignity in their memorials, touching the names carved into the Vietnam Wall, and walking onto through, around, and over the outdoor World War II Memorial. The Democrats running the federal government need to be reminded that this land is our land, it is not their land.
(This post first appeared in somewhat modifed form at Mr. Conservative.)
The August 6 anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima has come and gone, but it’s not too late to watch Bill Whittle’s beyond brilliant deconstruction of Leftist moral idiocy regarding that bombing — in this case, moral idiocy as displayed by Jon Stewart, the intellectual light for too many leftists.
Longtime readers know that I routinely thank God for the Atom bomb. My mother, interned in a Japanese concentration camp, had reached the point of starvation that saw her lose interest in food. Death was days away. Instead, because of that bomb, this is a picture of my mother five months after Hiroshima:
As a P.S., it’s worth recalling that Japanese concentration camps were no picnic, especially for the Western men caught up in Japan’s Bushido madness.
The generation that experienced the attack on Pearl Harbor is fading away, which makes it all the more important that we remember Pearl Harbor. Regular readers know that we’ve always taken the attack on Pearl Harbor very seriously in my family, because it marked the beginning of Japan’s assault against the entire Pacific region. My Mom was living in the Dutch East Indies at the time (aka Java), and ended up interned by the Japanese for the rest of the war.
I will always remember Pearl Harbor, and I will always be thankful for the tens of thousands of brave Allied fighters who liberated the Pacific at such great cost to themselves. (This may explain my partiality for the Marines and the Navy.)
One of the most memorable advertising campaigns from WWII was the all-out effort to make sure that people didn’t inadvertently reveal military secrets that they’d gleaned from their work or from contacts with loved ones. The most famous is probably this one, because it’s got that memorable rhyme:
The “loose lips” poster wasn’t the only one. England and America were covered with posters reminding people that national security — and their loved ones’ lives — were at stake, and that a careless word could cause unthinkable damage:
What’s quite obvious when one looks back at WWII is that no one ever contemplated that this deadly loose talk might emanate, not from a thoughtless, gossipy homemaker but, instead, from a boastful White House. How could those men and women have imagined a time when our President and his administration would be so anxious to borrow military honor that they would treat military secrets with complete disregard for the safety of the men under their command? It’s hard to find a better example of the base selfishness that characterizes an administration that enthusiastically, and with massive government coercion, assures us that we have an obligation to be selfless for the greater good.
Almost since Truman drooped the bomb, historians have been claiming that he did so, not to end World War II but, instead, to fire the opening salvo in the Cold War. In other words, the post war academics claimed that Truman sacrificed hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives just to prove a point to Stalin.
For decades, the only writer to buck this trend was Paul Fussell in Thank God for the Atom Bomb, a book that I don’t believe ever got much traction. Fussell argued that Truman and his advisors, looking at the staggering US losses in Okinawa, and projecting ahead to a mainland invasion, predicted another 70,000 or more American dead, and 100,000 to 200,000 Japanese dead. Under these calculations, the bomb was a reasonable, even humane option.
It turns out Fussell was wrong. His numbers were too low. War historian Dennis Giangreco has examined many more documents that were released since Fussell’s book, and concluded that the best belief in 1945 was that a mainland assault would have been a bloodbath:
American planners for the invasion of Japan as far back as the summer of 1944 produced a worst-case scenario of “half a million American lives and many times that number wounded.” The Japanese Imperial Army’s increased efficiency at killing Americans, particularly on Okinawa, demonstrated to US Secretary of War Henry Stimson and many Pentagon planners that the worst case was a real possibility. This begged a question. The invasion of Japan was scheduled for fall 1945. If the situation on Okinawa — fully half a year before the invasion — was movng toward the original worse case scenario, was there an even worse case, unanticipated death toll? This notion alarmed Stimson. He ordered a multifaceted examination of the US Army’s manpower and training requirements. Shortly before the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, this resulted in an ominous warning: “We shall probably have to kill at least 5 to 10 million Japanese [and] this might cost us between 1.7 and 4 million casualties including 400,000 and 800,000 killed.”
You can read the rest of a fascinating and information interview with Mr. Giangreco here.
Many people forget, or never knew, that the war in Europe was virtually non-existent before June 6, 1944. Until that time, the Nazi’s had successfully repulsed Allied efforts to bring the war to European soil. The Nazis owned the land in Europe. Sure, there were aerial bombing raids, spies, in-country resistance movements, etc., but that didn’t stop Nazi dominance. What stopped it was good, old-fashioned boots-on-the-ground warfare — and that warfare began with the first wave on D-Day.
I have never, never, never been able to imagine the feelings of the men in the first wave, seasick, cold, wet, rushing into sure death. My brain just doesn’t take me there. All I know is that the free world owes these men, and the waves of them who followed them to such places as Bastogne and Berlin, their undying gratitude.
[Photo deleted, because it was a film shot — I knew it was too well-framed to be true….]
One of the best history books ever written, bar none, is Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory, a book that elegantly and seamlessly manages to be a comprehensive overview of WWI from the English point of view and of British literature during WWI. My copy of the book, which I got during college, still occupies a prominent place on my bookshelf. I’ve read it so often that the cheap paperback binding has disintegrated and, when I open the book, the drift gently down around my feet. Anyone who is interested in England’s transition from pre-War romanticism to post-War cynicism, or interested in rock-solid history, or is interested in early 20th century British literature and poetry, or is simply interested in beautiful writing, should read this book.
Paul Fussell also wrote one of my favorite essays ever: Thank God for the Atom Bomb. In that essay, Fussell, an infantryman in Europe
the Pacific during WWII, makes a very simple argument: the atomic bomb was a good thing, in that it saved both Japanese and American lives. Had the bomb not dropped, the war would have continued onto the Japanese mainland, with substantially greater American deaths (up to 100,000 more) as well as Japanese deaths equal to or greater than those resulting from the bomb. This was a total war, one that the Japanese started. It was not America’s responsibility to kill its own exhausted Marines in order to keep the Japanese alive, especially because the Japanese Bushido ethos demanded war without surrender.
Aside from embracing Fussell’s logic, I have always heartily and personally agreed with his sentiment. When the bomb dropped, my mother, who had spent the previous 3.9 years in various Japanese concentration camps in Java, was 21, weighed 60 or so pounds, had the edema of profound starvation, was suffering from two different types of malaria (so she had constant fevers), had beriberi, and was no longer interested in eating. Had the war lasted even a few more weeks, it’s doubtful she would have survived. No Mom, of course, equals no me. Thank God for the Atom Bomb!
Fussell, incidentally, wrote his atomic bomb essay while revisionist scholars were mounting their decades-long, atomic-sized attack on the bomb drop. Their contention — and the story I learned in school — was that Fat Man and Little Boy had nothing to do with the War in the Pacific, and everything to do with Truman posturing before Stalin. Recently released documents, however, show that Fussell was correct. While impressing Stalin might have been a by-product of the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Truman’s primary and reasonable goal was to speed up Japan’s inevitable defeat, while saving the lives of tens of thousands of Americans. (For more on this, check out this Dennis Giangreco bibliography.)
As you’ve already figured out from the heading to this post, Paul Fussell has died, aged 88. He was a true scholar who wrote brilliantly and who possessed a rare intellectual honesty and curmudgeonliness that overrode his generic East Coast, Ivy League liberalism.
(A random aside: Fussell’s son, Samuel, is a pretty darn good writer too. He wrote the delightful Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder, which chronicled his journey from weedy Ivy League scholar, to polished, Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque body building.)
A friend sent me a link to an editorial bemoaning the fact that, by abruptly pulling out from Iraq and, soon, Afghanistan, the Obama administration is ensuring that we’re leaving a job undone — something that invariably means one has to do it again. If history is going to keep repeating itself, why can’t we just repeat the good parts?
World War I ended with a definitive American victory, but a dangerous, un-managed peace, one that pretty much made World War II inevitable. By 1942, my favorite songwriter, Irving Berlin, pretty much summed up the WWII mindset, which was “do it right this time.”
‘Twas not so long ago we sailed to meet the foe
And thought our fighting days were done
We thought ’twas over then but now we’re in again
To win the war that wasn’t won
This time, we will all make certain
That this time is the last time
This time, we will not say “Curtain”
Till we ring it down in their own home town
For this time, we are out to finish
The job we started then
Clean it up for all time this time
So we won’t have to do it again
Dressed up to win
We’re dressed up to win
Dressed up for victory
We are just beginning
And we won’t stop winning
Till the world is free
We’ll fight to the finish this time
And we’ll never have to do it again
Trust old Irving to hit the nail on the head. And, in fact, that’s what the Allies did. First, they destroyed entirely the totalitarian states in Germany, Japan and Italy. Then, in those regions over which they had control (as to those the Soviets held), the Americans carefully rebuilt the nations into democratic allies. It was a tough, long-haul job, but it prevented post-war massacres and ensured that (so far) we haven’t had to “do it again” with Germany, Italy or Japan.
Clearly, we’re a whole lot dumber now than we were in the mid-20th century. In 1991 we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq (which is one of the reasons I’ve never liked Colin Powell, whom I’ve always blamed, fairly or not, for being the architect of that foolish retreat). Now, with Obama’s help, we’re doing it all over again, only worse. Does any nation get a third chance to remedy its chronic stupidity? I doubt we will, especially because Obama is also choosing to repeat the disarmament mistakes of the 20s and 30s. Ain’t those fancy Ivy League educations grand? They go in smart and come out stupid.
I’m an armchair warrior (aka a chicken hawk) and I’m disgusted and frustrated. I can only imagine how the troops — the ones who sweated and bled — feel as they watch their Commander in Chief dismantling all of their good work.
Back in 2004, entirely coincidentally, I ended up at the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., on the same morning that veterans of the Battle of the Bulge had gathered for a reunion. Some got there under their own steam. Many, though, were on walkers or in wheelchairs. They were so frail. And so many were weeping. It was that weeping that did me in. I seldom cry on my own behalf, but I’m a sympathy weeper. Watching these old, fragile warriors break down under the weight of their memories got my tear ducts working overtime. I still get watery thinking of those men who not only fought one of the most important battles of the war, but who then came home and honored the dead by living. They had families, held jobs, and generally gave meaning to the freedom for which they fought.
I mention this little story because there are people out there, especially in the entertainment world, and more specifically on the set of Hawaii Five-O, who do not share my reverence for these aged warriors (free registration required):
Last week, a special group of Americans made a trip to Hawaii. This was not their first trip to Hawaii. In fact, the first time all of these men were together in Hawaii was on December 7th, 1941.
Last week, these men and some of their families were back in Hawaii again for the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Today, less than ten percent of those who served during World War II are still alive.
For the men who made this trip, there was also another tacit acknowledgement. This would be their last trip. The average age of a Pearl Harbor [veteran] is in the early nineties. In fact, there are now so few Pearl Harbor survivors left that the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is disbanding at the end of the month.
On December 9th, 24 Pacific veterans, including 23 Pearl Harbor survivors were taken to the National Cemetery of the Pacific for a memorial ceremony honoring those who fell during the attack on Pearl Harbor and those who fell during the Pacific campaign.
While the men were at the cemetery, the TV show Hawaii Five-O was filming at the cemetery. As the National Anthem was played and the ceremony went on, the CBS production crew was filming. At first they told the veterans and their families to hush, then repeatedly pushed them back and finally told them to hurry up. As the veterans were laying roses on the graves of their fallen comrades, a production employee walked through the middle of the ceremony telling them to hurry up.
Perhaps the ultimate insult came at the end, when someone with the veterans group asked if one of the cast members of Hawaii Five-O could come over and say hello to the group. The production crew refused.
These World War II vets are a tough bunch. They went through the first depression and then the Second World War. I can guarantee you they did not let this incident ruin their trip, though some of their family members might feel differently.
CBS has issued a carefully nuanced statement claiming they would look into the incident and throwing out some boilerplate language about how they respect the veterans of World War II.
Stefffan Tubbs, who was there, provides more details about the Hollywood thought process on display:
I decided to take a closer look at the production area from the public thoroughfare and walked closer to see catering trucks, grips, associate directors, production assistants, lighting workers, countless minions and the lead director – a Hollywood-looking middle-aged man wearing a black “AD/HD” t-shirt, a play off the rock band “AC/DC.” I stopped well behind the cameras and out of view when a local production assistant politely told me to keep moving. I was not happy and told her we had WWII vets who would likely be in the area. I was told, “Sorry, sir. We rented this part of the cemetery today.” My blood started to boil, but I remained calm and moved on. As I stood behind the tent, the director yelled at everyone to: “Get out of the line of sight! If you don’t belong here, clear out!”
I made sure to go where I was basically invisible, 40 yards from the nearest camera when the director heatedly walked to me. He was not happy.
“Can you please move?” he said sternly.
“OK,” I said. “Where would you like me to go? I have Pearl survivors who are here visiting their fallen comrades at a public cemetery.”
He couldn’t have cared less and told me that if we stood behind a tent, that would be fine. He walked away completely frustrated and yelled at a local assistant: “I am doing YOUR job! You wanna come back here again? Do your job!” I felt sorry for her. It wasn’t her fault a group of vets actually came back for a realreason to this cemetery. Having been around a few movie sets, I knew this was how they were especially if the scene was behind schedule, etc. Keep in mind at this point I was alone. It wasn’t as if our entire entourage was milling about. There was only one veteran anywhere near me and was walking toward me from up the road.
Walter Maciejowski, 90, from Massachusetts soon caught up and I quickly tried to run interference so he wouldn’t get yelled at as he stood there in his cream-colored Pearl Harbor Survivors cap. Walter was clueless and was just amazed at the technology. He whispered in my ear as the scene was about to begin 75 yards away. We both stood exactly where the director had told me to stand.
I told Walter we had to go, and we started to walk away as lead actor Alex O’Laughlin and Terry O’Quinn from Lost did their scene. As we moved out, yet another woman came up to us and with a fake smile told us Walter couldn’t take any pictures.
“Our actors get very skiddish [sic] around still cameras, sir.”
“Funny, and yet they act in front of them,” I said, ticked off because we were already leaving.
I wish he hadn’t done it, but Walter asked if they by chance had a hat for him. To his face, she said, “I doubt it but I will try.” She never did.
You can read the rest of this eyewitness narrative here.
This whole thing falls into the category of I see it, but I don’t believe it. It’s impossible for me to understand the mindset of louts who are either so callously self-involved or so Progressively propagandized (or both) that they are unable to support old men on a last pilgrimage to a defining moment in their youth — a defining moment, moreover, that was not only one of the more savage acts in a savage century, but that also paved the way for a freedom that blessed Europe (until it squandered that gift) and was the making of a very successful modern Japan (which then decided to stop having babies).
UPDATE: In the first comment to this post, Don Quixote points out that Hawaii Five-O is fairly military-friendly in content, something that I respect and appreciate. I can’t figure out if that fact makes the cast’s and crew’s behavior at Pearl Harbor more or less unpleasant. It’s like discovering the worms under a rock (with all due respect to bookworms, of course). I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Back in Hollywood’s golden days, the studios employed vast numbers of publicity people to make sure that people didn’t learn that the stars of wholesome, family friendly movies lived somewhat debauched lifestyles.
UPDATE II: JJ offered so much good information, I’m copying his comment here:
A little information from the world of TV. Whether it mitigates or not is up to you, but here’s what happened.
1) Whoever – in Hawaii – it is who schedules events at the cemetery is a retard. (Dear Editor: I don’t actually care about the political incorrectness of using that word, it’s apposite, it stays.) Or, perhaps it was a screw-up on the part of the scheduler for the vets. Either way, some dingbat somewhere dropped the ball and allowed the two groups to be occupying the same space at the same time. This unfortunate confluence was the fault of neither group – blame whoever has the appointment books.
2) CBS has no idea what the complaints they’re suddenly receiving are about, so idiot boilerplate is their best – maybe only – response. They don’t actually have a production company in Hawaii – or much of anywhere else these days. I would be astounded if it was an actual CBS production company. The people who own, produce, and deliver that show to CBS for air do not work for CBS. They are an outside, independent production company that exists as an entity for the purpose of making episodes of the show – most of them have never been within a thousand miles of Black Rock. That production company hired that director – and everybody else on set – to make that episode. The director is a production company employee – for that episode – and he may make all the episodes, (a probability rare to the point of vanishing), many of them, some, few – or this may be his only one. He’s a jobber. When you complain to CBS about him, they’re going to say, “huh? Wha…?” They didn’t hire him, probably don’t know him, may never have heard of him, and he ain’t their problem. (The network doesn’t know or care about the labor, they only want to see the baby – in time for it to go out when it’s scheduled to.)
3) The production company got seriously shafted on the cost to film in the cemetery that day. How do I know? All production companies always get shafted on fees for the use of locations, because everybody in the world – including people who should know better – begin having visions beyond the dreams of avarice when they see Hollywood coming. And the biggest shafting is the make-it-up-on-the-spot insurance premiums for filming on location. If there’s a blade of grass out of place, or a broken twig on a tree after the production company wraps and leaves, you cannot fathom the megillah this is. (Which is why they film in studios and on lots, and in Canada. It’s why studios and back lots came into being in the first place: to avoid the never-ending problems of locations.) The PAs all knew that if anything remotely definable as “damage” happened to any part of the cemetery or its grounds – even if committed by a Pearl Harbor veteran or somebody else – they would be the ones turning on a spit over a hot fire,
None of which excuses the shitty attitude of these overpaid, well-tanned, tower of ignorance trolls, but it may make it a bit – a microscopic bit – understandable, or maybe explicable. The fact is most of them, being products of American education, never heard of Pearl Harbor. Factor in the self-centeredness engendered by hanging around Hollywood, and you have a group that’s only rarely in touch with where they are. The director, probably the senior guy present (at least on the on-the-spot management ladder, could have been gracious and understanding. The actors as well – neither of whom I know – could also have brought matters to a halt for a respectful pause. (Tom Selleck or John Hillerman, speaking of people who filmed in Hawaii for CBS, would have. [Selleck would have stopped the scene, and worked out a way to get the Pearl Harbor vets into it, as objects of deep respect and honor.] I wouldn’t know either of the two clowns mentioned above if I fell over them.
Hat tip: America’s First Sergeant
My mother’s heading to the hospital again today. She’s not aging gracefully, in large part because of the damage done to her body and soul during WWII. I thought that this would be a good day for me to reprint what I once wrote about her war (originally part of this longer post about Japanese atrocities).
In 1941, my mother was a 17 year old Dutch girl living in Java. Life was good then. Although the war was raging in Europe, and Holland had long been under Nazi occupation, the colonies were still outside the theater of war. The colonial Dutch therefore were able to enjoy the traditional perks of the Empire, with lovely homes, tended by cheap Indonesian labor. All that changed with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Most Americans think of Pearl Harbor as a uniquely American event, not realizing that it was simply the opening salvo the Japanese fired in their generalized war to gain total ascendancy in the Pacific. While Pearl Harbor devastated the American navy, the Japanese did not conquer American soil. Residents in the Philippines (American territory), Indonesia (Dutch territory), Malaya (British territory), and Singapore (also British) were not so lucky. Each of those islands fell completely to the Japanese, and the civilians on those islands found themselves prisoners of war.
In the beginning, things didn’t look so bad. The Japanese immediately set about concentrating the civilian population by moving people into group housing, but that was tolerable. The next step, however, was to remove all the men, and any boys who weren’t actually small children. (Wait, I misspoke. The next step was the slaughter of household pets — dogs and cats — which was accomplished by picking them up by their hind legs and smashing their heads against walls and trees.)
After this separation, the men and women remained completely segregated for the remainder of the war. The men were subjected to brutal slave labor, and had an attrition rate much higher than the women did. Also, with the typical Bushido disrespect for men who didn’t have the decency to kill themselves, rather than to surrender, the men were tortured at a rather consistent rate.
One of my mother’s friends discovered, at war’s end, that her husband had been decapitated. This is what it looked like when the Japanese decapitated a prisoner (the prisoner in this case being an Australian airman):
The women were not decapitated, but they were subjected to terrible tortures. After the men were taken away, the women and children were loaded in trucks and taken to various camps. The truck rides were torturous. The women and children were packed into the trucks, with no food, no water, no toilet, facilities, and no shade, and traveled for hours in the steamy equatorial heat.
Once in camp, the women were given small shelves to sleep on (about 24 inches across), row after row, like sardines. They were periodically subjected to group punishments. The one that lives in my mother’s memory more than sixty years after the fact was the requirement that they stand in the camp compound, in the sun, for 24 hours. No food, no water, no shade, no sitting down, no restroom breaks (and many of the women were liquid with dysentery and other intestinal diseases and parasitical problems). For 24 hours, they’d just stand there, in the humid, 90+ degree temperature, under the blazing tropical sun. The older women, the children and the sick died where they stood.
There were other indignities. One of the camp commandants believed himself to have “moon madness.” Whenever there was a full moon, he gave himself license to seek out the prisoners and torture those who took his fancy. He liked to use knives. He was the only Japanese camp commandant in Java who was executed after the war for war crimes.
Of course, the main problem with camp was the deprivation and disease. Rations that started out slender were practically nonexistent by war’s end. Eventually, the women in the camp were competing with the pigs for food. If the women couldn’t supplement their rations with pig slop, all they got was a thin fish broth with a single bite sized piece of meat and some rice floating in it. The women were also given the equivalent of a spoonful of sugar per week. My mother always tried to ration hers but couldn’t do it. Instead, she’d gobble it instantly, and live with the guilt of her lack of self-control.
By war’s end, my mother, who was then 5’2″, weighed 65 pounds. What frightened her at the beginning of August 1945 wasn’t the hunger, but the fact that she no longer felt hungry. She knew that when a women stopped wanting to eat, she had started to die. Had the atomic bomb not dropped when it did, my mother would have starved to death.
Starvation wasn’t the only problem. Due to malnourishment and lack of proper protection, my mother had beriberi, two different types of malaria (so as one fever ebbed, the other flowed), tuberculosis, and dysentery. At the beginning of the internment, the Japanese were providing some primitive medical care for some of these ailments. As the war ground on, of course, there was no medicine for any of these maladies. She survived because she was young and strong. Others didn’t.
So yes, the Japanese were different. They approached war — and especially civilian populations — with a brutality equaled only by the Germans. War is brutal, and individual soldiers can do terrible things, but the fact remains that American troops and the American government, even when they made mistakes (and the Japanese internment in American was one of those mistakes) never engaged in the kind of systematic torture and murder that characterized Bushido Japanese interactions with those they deemed their enemies. It is a tribute to America’s humane post-WWII influence and the Japanese willingness to abandon its past that the Bushido culture is dead and gone, and that the Japanese no longer feel compelled by culture to create enemies and then to engage in the systematic torture and murder of those enemies.
Seventy years ago today, America’s self-imposed isolationism, to which it had managed to cling for twenty years, ended when the Japanese launched their savage surprise attack against Pearl Harbor. All told, 2,402 people died. It was, until 9/11, the deadliest attack on American soil. A mere six months later, the American Navy met the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Midway. While that battle did not wipe out Japanese sea power then and there, it nevertheless spelled the beginning of the end for that power. The Japanese never recovered, and the war’s end was a foregone conclusion — never mind that it took another three and a half years to achieve.
I take Pearl Harbor Day personally. My mother was living in Indonesia at the time and the Japanese, flush with their devastating kill record against America on December 7, moved swiftly to take over Singapore, Malaya, the Philippines and Indonesia. My mom spent the war years in a Japanese concentration camp. Pearl Harbor day was certainly a day of infamy for her, and one that colored (and continues to color) the rest of her life. She soldiered on, but never recovered.