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The Hughes Report
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
One of the Two Million
Topic: World War II
One day, my dad stopped to talk to the elderly lady across the street, who is left-leaning politically.  The subject of the Atom Bomb came up, and she told him how terrible it was that the US bombed Japan in World War II.

My dad replied that he did not regret dropping the bomb, because, as he put it, "I am one of the two million."

You see, my dad was a crewman on board the battleship USS Alabama in 1945-46.  He is shy about his naval service, judging that he did not do anything compared to the many who took real risk in the war.  The Alabama was patrolling off the West Coast, and did not see actual combat.  My dad, who later attended college on the G.I. Bill, says he got much more out of his service than he ever put in.

However, as the US fleet encroached upon Japan, they were increasingly hammered by kamikaze attacks that sank hundreds of ships.  Since the Japanese were refusing to surrender, regularly fighting to the death, and even training their women to fight with sharpened sticks, our government estimated that a conventional invasion would cost one million lives on each side.  Other estimates were higher.  My dad had a well-founded expectation of being involved if such a major invasion took place.

After the war, many Japanese thanked US troops for ending the war quickly.  Many of them were also "one of the two million."

Posted by hughes at 1:23 PM CST
Saturday, June 14, 2008
A Father's Prayer
Topic: World War II
by General Douglas MacArthur

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak and brave evough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know Thee -- and realize that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge.  Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously.  Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.

Then, I, his father, will dare to whisper, "I have not lived in vain."

Posted by hughes at 1:03 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, July 11, 2008 5:21 PM CDT
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Letter Home from the War, 1945
Topic: World War II

In the effects of my late grandparents I found a copy of a letter written home from the war in 1945, and apparently typed up and distributed by his wife to friends.  His identity is lost, but he signed his name Earl, and his initials are ETR.  The letter expresses a cynicism fostered by being on the front lines of battle in the "real" war, brutalized and traumatized by the experience, even in "The Good War."

"They pay us $10.00 more per month and write a lot of Glorious crap about the battles won and lost.  Crap about the beautiful places we get to see, all the pretty girls that kiss us, etc. on into eternity.  They applaud our heroes and mourn our dead.  Pin metals (sic.) on our manly chests none of which is true or we want.

"It is hard to really explain how it is.  We don't want the glory, metals, or the pats on the back and as for the kisses.  Can you imagine there being joy amid a shable (sic.) of burned homes, death, distrust, and hunger:  When the dead are still lying there, Americans, Germans, old men, women and even babies.  When every anyone move (sic.) is made to relieve some wounded or to even get water or food you get shelled by artillery or a machine gun chatters.  Yes, we have lots of fun.

"After the haze of battle and the eternal smell of death moves on it is not too bad.  (They say time dulls all pain).  The people do come back to their homes and do line the streets and kiss the troops and cry for joy.  But remember the infantry is not back there.  They have moved on to another battle field.  It makes no difference to us where it is, France, Belgium, Holland, or Germany.  They are all the same.  The people look the same.  Dirty, hungry, afraid and always with something tied up in bundles that they treasured too much to leave behind.  But where at times it is so quiet that you can hear your own heart beat.  Times when we don't even whisper our prayers, but sit in the tense, electrified silence and commune with God or try to recall some vision of a happier day.  Or sit on guard for hours with your hand on your buddies (sic.) shoulder to keep him from groaning or crying out in his sleep.  Yes, we are a privileged few.

"I'm not asking for pity or anything else.  Only trying to explain how we live and how we feel.  We are not playing a game that we can quit any time but a game where one slip would be fatal.  You must have a hatred for your foe that blacks out everything else, fear, misery, hungery (sic.), pity or comfort.  You must not relax at any time (not even in your sleep) and keep with you at all times the eternal lust to kill and vigilance of the killer.  Yes, I am the same one that left home.

"Sometimes at night I hear the nurse walking.  For a moment I can't place myself and feel for my knife or gun.  Or sometimes hear the drone of a motor and start to duck.  I know I'm not nervous but it only takes time to realize that I am back here where everything is changed."


Posted by hughes at 6:07 PM CDT
Friday, June 6, 2008
On This Day in 1944
Topic: World War II
Take a few moments today to remember the men who died, and others who risked death, on this day in 1944 in the invasion of Normandy, known as D-Day, in order to conquer forces of evil.  The white crosses and stars of David still stand in fields beyond the beaches.  Thousands of fathers, mothers, and wives received telegrams from the government soon after that day, reporting that their sons and husbands were among the dead or missing.

Contrast these sacrifices, and those that followed, and the loyal support of all Americans for the war effort, practically without exception, with the efforts of liberals and the opposition party to defund the troops and undermine their morale in the present war against radical Muslims.

The news media today trumpets from the rooftops each disaster, every shortcoming, every friendly fire incident, as proofs against the present war.  Those who know the history of World War II know that there were disasters that dwarf any in the Middle East, there were friendly fire incidents manifold, there was widespread incompetence amongst the leadership, and there were many episodes of atrocity.  It has been said that had the American people known at the time how badly we were beaten by Rommel at the Battle of Kasserine Pass, they would have demanded that we pull out of the war immediately.  Patton's tanks were starved of gas by bureaucrats.  Troops entered the worst winter in 20 years without proper winter boots and clothing, and thousands were killed in the Battle of the Bulge.

War is a dirty business, a necessary evil.  Thousands would yet die in frontal assaults on Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.  US ships approaching Japan were steadily decimated by Kamikazes.  After predicting losses in an invasion of the Japanese mainland, it was estimated that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which forced Japan to surrender, actually saved at least a million lives on each side.  To this day, my father, who about this time was being stationed on board the Battleship Alabama, says, "I am one of the two million."

As Tom Hanks said at a memorial honoring the Greatest Generation, "We had a job to do.  We didn't like it -- but we did it."

Finally, consider what the consequences would have been if, after invading France, Congress had decided the price was too high, and unilaterally pulled out our troops.  How long would our nation's economy had stood?  How long would our shores have remained uninvaded, and our nation remained free?

PH

Posted by hughes at 1:26 PM CDT
Sunday, July 31, 2005
French Revisionist View of Hiroshima
Topic: World War II
On July 30, Hiroshima mayor Tadatoshi Akiba dedicated the "Gates of Peace" memorial to the destruction of the city by Atomic Bomb on August 6, 1945. The monument consists of a walkway with ten 30-foot arches. Artist Clara Halter, along with architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, intended the arches to "symboliz[e] Dante's nine circles of Hell plus one more" for Hiroshima.

Halter said, "After the world commemorated the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps, I found it impossible to do nothing to pay tribute to Hiroshima's dead and remind people what barbarism men are capable of."

If the French similarly complained about barbarism in 1944-45, during heavy Allied bombing of German industrial cities, it has not been widely reported.

Halter must be unaware or ignoring the Japanese invasions of Manchuria, China, Indochina, Korea, Singapore, and the Phillipines. To remind people of barbarism, she should visit Pearl Harbor or erect monuments at Nanking, the Burma Railway, Corregidor, or the site of the Bataan Death March.

As the U.S. Navy approached Japanese waters in 1945, they were attacked daily by kamikazes. The invasions of Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Saipan made it clear that the Japanese were heavily entrenched and willing if not eager to fight to the death. Told that the Americans would eat their children, hundreds of women on Saipan threw their babies over a cliff and jumped after them as U.S. troops watched helplessly below. Japanese women were being armed with pointed sticks and taught hand-to-hand combat. The U.S. military estimated that a conventional invasion of Japan would cost about one million American lives with equal losses on the other side.

Do the math: 210,000 killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Two million lives spared. That nets 1,790,000 lives saved.

[Source: Agence France Presse]

Copyright 2005 Paul A. Hughes
http://members.tripod.com/pneuma_music/hughesreport/

Posted by hughes at 1:38 PM CDT

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