2005 Aug 6-9 Letters to Omaha WH Editor about A-bombing…
What One letter in the Omaha World Herald reveal about Omaha, the A-bombing of Japan and our pro-bomb nationalist mythology….
While vigiling at Offut this year Fr Ken Vavrina of Saint Richard’s parish in Omaha urged me to write a letter to the editor to the Omaha World Herald explaining why we CW’ers were vigiling at Offutt AFB Aug 6-9. Below is a copy of my letter that appeared in the Omaha WH Aug 10th, followed by 12 more letters published in the Omaha WH in response to my one letter – all but one negative. All predictable, especially in the Omaha WH were the nationalistic mythology surrounding the A-bombings of Japan have been cultivated for 60 years! Read them and weep….
Aug 10, 2005, Omaha World Herald, Public Pulse
This was a war crime
For 27 years, we Catholic Workers have returned to Offutt Air Force Base every Aug. 6 to 9 to remember and repent for the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.
We do so for four reasons:
- The bombings did not end World War II. It already was nearing its end by August 1945.
- The perceived lives saved by the bombings are hypothetical. The real lives destroyed were an estimated 225,000, including women, children and the elderly.
- A war crime is a war crime. It matters not who commits the crime or for what reason the crime is committed.
- If we Americans cannot see the true criminal nature of the bombings, it will be impossible for us to see any possible criminal acts of war that we are committing today in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Frank Cordaro, Des Moines
Aug 11, 2005, Omaha World Herald , Public Pulse
The United States has been criticized for killing so many innocent people at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, the Japanese government was the one that bombed Pearl Harbor and brought the United States into World War II. Many American lives were lost in the Pacific Theater because of the dastardly attack and subsequent fighting in the Pacific.
The Japanese government could have avoided the deaths by surrendering. It is estimated that up to a million American lives would otherwise have been lost in defeating Japan. President Harry S. Truman showed much courage in using this weapon. History shows that the Japanese government caused its own innocent deaths in each of these cities.
Stanley Tuton, Mills, Neb.
August 12, 2005 , Omaha World Herald, The Public Pulse
Heroes, not criminals
Frank Cordaro (Aug. 10 Pulse) is entitled to his beliefs. Similarly, I’m entitled to believe that he’s hopelessly misguided.
My grandfather was a Marine, fighting in the southern Pacific in the summer of 1945. With the war in Europe over, the U.S. government was prepared to commit hundreds of thousands of servicemen – my grandfather and his colleagues – to an invasion of Japan. Conversely, the Japanese government was preparing the remnants of its military, as well as its citizenry, for an all-out defense of the homeland.
The war was not nearly over, as Mr. Cordaro contends. In fact, horrendous bloodshed well into 1946 was all but certain until President Harry S. Truman made the right call in using nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Thanks to Mr. Truman, my grandfather and thousands like him got to return to America and live their lives. I have good friends who fought the war on terror in Afghanistan. They helped to drive out the Taliban and assist the Afghan people in securing a better future. For Mr. Cordaro to suggest that those folks – and perhaps our servicemen and servicewomen fighting valiantly in Iraq – are war criminals is absurd.
Chris Carlson, Blair,Neb
Aug 13, 2005, Omaha World Herald, Public Pulse
I read with interest Frank Cordaro’s Aug. 10 letter calling the atomic bombings 60 years ago of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki war crimes.
First, the bombings did end the war. The Japanese were prepared to defend their homeland to the “last man.”
Second, although many thousands of lives were lost, millions of lives were spared by the bombings.
Third, Cordaro’s statement that “a war crime is a war crime” is true but totally inapplicable in this case.
Fourth, 9/11 is not a figment of our imagination and was not a trivial matter. This country was attacked. Innocent people were slaughtered, and this cowardly act came with the promise of more to come. Cordaro’s talk about possible “criminal acts of war” that the United States is committing in Afghanistan and Iraq is as misguided as the above.
Mr. Cordaro should have mentioned the fact that his freedom to protest and say what he pleases – even if it is dead wrong and blindly stupid – has been guaranteed by the very military forces that he is now accusing of war crimes. Wake up, pal. You’ve missed the boat.
John R. Johnson, Bellevue
A history object lesson
Regarding the “peace activists” who like to protest at Offutt Air Force Base, I applaud their efforts and hope they continue their work .True, they are left-wing extremists divorced from reality. Their disloyal ravings are a stench in the nostrils of decent, patriotic Americans everywhere, and their very presence is an embarrassment to our great state.
Thankfully, there are only a handful of them, so they have absolutely no influence on events. Nevertheless, I believe it is useful to have a few of these people around. They are great visual aids in teaching world history.
For example, if any student ever wanted to know why Adolf Hitler had such an easy time conquering Europe in 1940, all we would have to do is take him to Offutt on a protest day and say, “See this handful of angry, misguided people? Well, in 1930s Europe, there were millions of people just like them.”
John E. Marcucci, Kennard, Neb.
Truman was wise
As the son of a man who was preparing to parachute into Japan at the start of an invasion of its home islands during World War II, I can say I am grateful that President Harry S. Truman chose to use nuclear weapons first. Otherwise, my father probably would not have survived.
I have no problem trading the lives of the enemy for the lives of my fellow service members. I can also say that I am happy that the great minds of our nation were able to develop the weapon first, lest the nations we were at war with or even allied with (namely, the Soviet Union) beat us in that race.
I also believe we are completely justified in using them now because we were, in essence, attacked with “weapons of mass destruction” (fuel-laden aircraft which, when detonated, killed thousands) on Sept. 11, 2001./The United States did not start these wars. We were and are merely finishing what others have started. And we have the right to use any means necessary to do just that.
Phil Wojtalewicz, Bellevue
Aug 15, 2005, Omaha World Herald, Public Pulse
Frank Cordaro (Aug. 10 Pulse) said dropping atomic bombs on two Japanese cities amounted to war crimes.
Those attacks were sad, but Cordaro didn’t mention the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and the Japanese suicide pilots. The Japanese would have fought to the last man if the United States had invaded the islands.
Let’s not forget how the Japanese tortured U.S. prisoners of war. They starved them, tied their hands behind their backs and then shot them in the head.
I don’t think Mr. Cordaro was in World War II and saw American soldiers getting killed.
Lawrence E. Hiatt, Omaha
Bomb was necessary
President Harry S. Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb was fully warranted at the time and remains totally justified today. Recently revealed intelligence decoded by the “Magic” decryption processes shows that Japan was not about to surrender.
The Japanese had every intention of fighting to the bitter end, with one exception. They would have consented to a conditional surrender that would have preserved the imperial system and the old order, which was responsible for millions of deaths.
Without doubt, the bomb saved lives on all sides – Asian, Japanese and American. It was not dropped to intimidate the Soviet Union or for other sinister reasons. It was dropped simply to end a bloody war as quickly as possible.
Jacob Thompson, Omaha
Aug 16, 2006, Omaha World Herlad, Public Pulse
It was necessary
Recent Pulse letters have denigrated and deplored the use of atomic weapons to end the war with Imperial Japan. They have stated or implied ulterior motives on the part of the American government.
A simple look at history shows the perniciousness of these hateful concepts. The Americans had taken Okinawa at a great loss to both sides. There is no reasonable belief that the taking of the “home islands” would not be even more costly.
In addition, Japan had a huge army in China, Korea and Manchuria that was raping and killing thousands of innocent people.
I wonder that the “peacemakers” who have written so dismissively of our efforts to end the war quickly have not considered these atrocities as a counterweight to their arguments.
Yes, there was some talk of surrender in Tokyo. But it was not realistic. The Japanese wanted to leave the government and the emperor in place and to have Japan oversee warcrimes trials.
The use of the monstrous, overwhelming power was the only thing that could end the war.
George Miller, Council Bluffs
Cordaro is wrong
If Frank Cordaro (Aug. 10 Pulse) has spent 27 years hiding behind the name of the Catholic Workers to picket Offutt Air Force Base, he needs to get a life.
In the first place, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, were necessary. They shortened the war and saved my life.
I was in the U.S. 20th Air Force on Guam. In two weeks, I was scheduled to be transferred to the Philippines for infantry training. I’d have been in on the invasion of the Japanese home islands and might have been one of the 200,000 American men that our leaders expected would die in the invasion.
If Mr. Cordaro would spend his extra time helping others instead of trying to draw attention to a useless picketing spree each year, he could call himself a true American.
Richard Petrashek, Omaha
Frank Cordaro refers to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, as “war crimes.”
Mr. Cordaro should read the book “My Hitch in Hell: The Bataan Death March” by Lester Tenney, one of the few survivors of that march.
Many Americans died on that march from starvation, beatings and even beheadings if they fell or got off the line for one reason or another.
Mr. Cordaro should remember that if there had not been a Pearl Harbor attack, there wouldn’t have been a Hiroshima or a Nagasaki.
I visited the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, and the only visitors who smiled or even uttered a word were the Japanese.
Jim Muxen, Omaha
In response to Frank Cordaro’s Aug. 10 letter, where is the evidence that World War II was nearing an end? There was talk of a Japanese surrender in August 1945, but it would have taken years.
Yes, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were horrible. But so was Pearl Harbor.
I am certain that if Mr. Cordaro was scheduled to have been in an infantry invasion of Japan, he would have a different perspective.
Sylvia Altman, McCook, Neb.
Writer was right
The avalanche of letters responding to Frank Cordaro’s condemnation of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as war crimes (Aug. 10 Pulse) proves his point.
Most Nebraskans still refuse to deal with the moral dimensions of our use of atomic weapons to incinerate innocent civilians.
President Harry S. Truman, in the heat of World War II, might be excused for his decision. But today, 60 years later, the immorality of the bombing should be clear.
Until we as a people admit this, we will never be able to move beyond the false premise that the end justifies the means.
This explains why we as a people are not horrified by the U.S. Strategic Command’s mission to threaten the whole world with nuclear annihilation and why we cannot admit the immorality of the war in Iraq.
In the meantime, I will continue to join with Cordaro and the Catholic Worker community in protests at the gates of StratCom.
We might not change the powers that be, but we refuse to join in their moral insensitivity.
John Krejci, Lincoln