August 6-9, the days that mark the immoral atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I regard this as a secular Triduum plus one, a holy time to reflect and remember. The gospel reading on Hiroshima Day is the Transfiguration, a beautiful myth which prefigures the resurrection. Ironically the metaphor of Transfiguration elicits the Anti-Transfiguration of human flesh into atomic dust. Every year that goes by, Japan always remembers. America never does.
About 50,000 people gathered on august 6 in Hiroshima’s peace park near the epicenter of the bombing and a bell marked the start of a one-minute silence at 08.15 a.m. when the US bomber Enola Gay dropped the bomb on Aug 6, 1945.
In a welcomed twist Harry S. Truman’s grandson attended this year’s ceremony along with Art Beser the grandson of a radio operator on the Enola Gay the plane which dropped the bomb.
Cliff Daniel, Truman’s grandson, did not comment on his grandfather’s decision but simply said “I’m two generations down the line. It’s now my responsibility to do all I can to make sure we never use nuclear weapons again,” he said.
Well, bravo for him.For the second year the US ambassador attended. Good on him.
But nada in the US. The journalist Gar Alperovitz answered for all time the flimsy excuses for using atomic weapons on a nation which had already via back channels sued for peace. Eisenhower called it a mistake and later wrote :
During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face’. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude…”
Admiral William Leahy, Chief of Staff to both FDR and Truman later wrote in his memoir I Was There
It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.
“The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”
I have always agreed with the great journalist I.F Stone who had little time for Truman whom he considered a dwarf in the shadow of FDR. A nervous little guy, a product of the corrupt Prendergast machine in Kansas City, Truman’s only thought was saving US lives and justifying the money spent on the development of the BOMB. He was an insecure little man with little vision of the tremendous consequences of a being the first to use atomic warfare. He was positively jubilant about dropping the big one. His twisted theology was something else “WE thank God it has come to us instead of to our enemy.And we pray that he may guide us to use it in His ways and to His purposes.”
Whatta God! Glad he’s on our side!
So Truman, a protégé of FDR’s advisor JImmy Byrnes totally capitulated to the latter’s thinking: Though the Bomb was unnecessary, Japan was defeated, a message to Russia was important.
The message continues to haunt us.