Friday, May 20, 2016

Reflections: The Human Cost of War 71 Years Later

In this famous photo, a lone Japanese Soldier returns home to Hiroshima at the wars end only to find nothing of the home he left behind. It has been 71 years since the Japanese Surrender in 1945 and generations later, opinions and emotions vary. We often try to stay clear of the issue largely in part because there are some people out there born long after the war who maintain historical grudges. For them, there is nothing anyone can do. We find it pointless to get into how the war started or how it ended. What has happened has happened. It's the human cost that ultimately weighs past the butchers bill cut in gardens of stone. Generations will continue to look back and continue this debate long after we are gone. Those who have fought this war have all but left us now. It's up to the historians and those who care enough to know of this great tragedy, to retell the tales, and teach the lessons of total war so that they never be repeated. And while Japan has emerged from its catastrophic defeat into a modern nation, there are still those who fear the future as being the past. 
It is indeed surreal to see images of my fellow countrymen being shot out of the sky as this unfortunate crew of this B-29 seen in this photo. Surreal and sad as it is for those on the ground. How lucky for America that neither Japan or Nazi Germany had the technology or resources to bomb America's cities into the firestorms that killed so many civilians hiding in their bomb shelters experiencing a terror we shall never know. I think of the words of my dear friend John O'Hara who witnessed his home in Osaka being bombed by American B-29's. His eyes would light up as he recall the sounds of the explosions. He was only a boy but even today in his twilight years he can never forget the sounds of Osaka burning. There are so few people left who can tell you these tales. Only now has more film footage surfaced showing those last desperate battles in the sky over Japan. It is sad and heart wrenching to see both your fellow countrymen die and your tomodachi suffer. They say that is war and the only real winner is who is left. Those who ignore these lessons and sabre rattle are playing a dangerous game. Even now a new Cold War is an incident away from turning hot. Peace is always the best policy but to protect the peace we must always be on guard for the latter. How fortunate are we to live in the Heisei Era where America and Japan are the best of Allies. May we never be at war again.

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