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    V-J Day August 14, 1945 70th Anniversary of the end of WWII

    My parents always reminded us growing up that August 14 was the end of WWII, the day Japan had surrendered.  I almost forgot about it until I just looked at the date on the computer as I made my internet rounds before I went to bed.  For my parents this a very important date, and they wanted us to understand how it shaped their lives.

    My mother said that day everyone was waiting to hear if Japan was going to surrender.  The two atomic bombs had been dropped the week before and Japan was given an ultimatum to surrender or we would drop more.  My dad was on Saipan so my mother was glued to the radio for days.  She was listening to WKDKA from Pittsburg because that was the big station in her area, helping with the clean up after dinner when the news came from CBS New York. She and her sisters dropped everything they were doing and jumped in the Dairy truck and headed to town to celebrate.  My grandparents had a dairy and vegetable farm. Gas was rationed then so they only used the dairy truck because they made daily deliveries with it and was able to have more gas for it. 



    She told me people gathered there with their car radios on to hear Harry Truman make a statement that was repeated over again as details came in. She said that was the first time she had ever had a beer and it was Iron City Beer.  She didn't like it but she drank any ways because the war was over and my dad would soon come home. 

    They got in way past midnight and had to get up in a few hours to milk the cows.  She said she didn't sleep until the next day.  The phone rang all day and everyone was on the party lines talking and sharing their relief.  She couldn't relax even with her beer head ach as she called it.  I think she had more then one beer. 

    I wonder what my parents would think today about our politics and how low the bar is now set for nastiness?  They were New Deal Democrats and had grown up in the depression.  We were always punished for using the N word.  My dad had a good singing voice and sang in a black church choir because he grew up in a Mennonite community that shunned his family over the fact that his parents were not married.  When ever he got drunk, which was often, the gospel songs would indicate that he was ready to pass out. 

    This was a popular short movie that was playing at the time and starred Frank Sinatra and his hit song. It was about anti-semitism.  I think we should stop and think how far we still have to go. 




    This was a color film that was made by a sailor on the ship that the official  surrender took place in Sept. 1945.  It was restored a few years ago. 



    Redwood City California August 14. 1945  

    Hawaii August 14, 1945

    This is what it would have been like in a small town.  This is probably very much like it was for my mom and aunts. I can see them now with my Aunt Mary driving the truck.  Five young women hanging on the truck with Dairy on the sides. 

    North Platt, Nebraska.




    Thanks for this, trking!!   I had made a mental note earlier in the week to include a mention of this in this week's heap of haikus, but in the jumble of another difficult week, it totally slipped my mind.  

    I almost forgot.  Aug. 14. 1935 FDR signed the Social Security Act.  That was 80 years ago.  It was also the end of WWII ten years later.  For them they would give you the details as to what they were doing when the news came.  Like for me when JFK was shot.  

    My dad was in the South Pacific at the end of the war.  I remember my mom's scrapbook having the entire newspaper with its banner headline announcing V-J day.  

    It was a year before my dad mustered out of the Army.  He was then offered a job in the Rubber Industry as he mustered out and my parents moved to Akron.  My mother had saved all their money for 4 years and they were able to build a house with out a mortgage.  They were not alone doing that.  

    It makes me stop and think about what we as a country have done to our children.  

    The political class has no idea what is about to slap them along side of the head. This election cycle is going to be fascinating at least for the next year. At the beginning of the year, who could of predicted that Sanders and Trump would burst into this election and shake up the status quo. Or Roger Ailes would sacrifice Megan Kelly on the political alter to appease angry white men. 

    There is no straw pole at the Iowa Fair this year.  Sanders has already announced they are moving their town hall to a large venue. I bet the Iowa political parties are regretting dropping the straw pole as fund raiser with 20 Republicans running and Sanders star power. 

    The celebration was marred by the horror of the atomic bombings. I can't say for sure that Hiroshima wasn't necessary, but there were other options that should have been tried first. Even so, I'm kind of annoyed that David Dellinger's denunciations of the atom bombings lacked the necessary context. He kept saying that it proved how rotten the United States is. Maybe, but the alternative to the United States was the Axis.

    Can only imagine how I might have felt about that at the time.  I was born post-Viet Nam and so have never experienced a war with conscription.  I imagine it would intensely raise the personal stakes in such an argument.  Would you rather participate in a ground invasion or have the government drop the bomb?

     Would you rather participate in a ground invasion or have the government drop the bomb?

    That is the question I believe most Americans thought they were answering and so were [probably] justified in approving the strike after the fact. 

     So much more information about the total situation is available now and I believe it is fair to very harshly condemn some of the individuals involved in the government' s answer based on what I think were their motives.  

     I am in the opposite of a "Driveway Moment" so will not be able to respond further for at least a while.

    Like Mr. Smith and I said. our fathers were sitting on islands in the Pacific getting ready to invade Japan.  The country was exhausted after 15 years of depression plus a world war. Truman made a decision to end the war so we could rebuild the country. 

    With in minutes after the announcement was made on the evening of August 14, 1945 the country hit the streets in celebration. Neighbors were knocking on each other doors to spread the word.  Work stopped on production lines to take a few moments to celebrate and give a big sigh of relief. For the next several days the country was in jubilation.  

    5 March 1947



    Washington, DC UPI - Documents obtained by Republicans in the Senate from the War Department reveal that in the summer of 1945 President Truman vetoed the use of a new bomb that the government had spent tens of millions developing. The top secret new weapon, more deadly even than Hitler's 'wonder weapons', was ready in August, 1945. One aircraft could have delivered it and possibly ended the war. In a war still raging, that has caused over 50 million dead, sources say Truman's excuse has been the weapon is too terrible, and that innocent Japanese civilians might die.

         Casualties since the US and Russian invasion of the Japanese home islands have been over 1/2 million for the US and unknown numbers for the Soviet Union and Japan. Japanese boys as young as 10 years old have been captured on the battlefields. As spring 1947 approaches, the race to take the ruined remnants of Tokyo is on between Stalinist forces and the US.

          Congressmen whose constituents sons and fathers have died in the invasion say Truman should be impeached, some even say he should be shot as a traitor. Caricatures of Truman in a Japanese uniform have been burned in effigy outside the White House and in New York City, Boston and Dallas.


     TIMES London -  Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill refused to answer reporter's questions about what he knew about the 'atomic' bomb outside offices of Whitehall today.  He did say if the reports are true, to him it is an outrageous error by President Truman of monumental proportions.  He refused to speculate if use of the bomb might have saved the thousands of British POW's who have been found dead in Japan, beyond saying 'many would be alive today if the war had ended in 1945'. Heaps of POW bodies have been found, some executed, as US and British forces advance up the island chain and in bitter street by street fighting on the island of Honshu. Churchill went on to say he fears a complete Soviet takeover of Japan and Korea when the war in the Pacific ends.

           Churchill shocked Americans a year ago today in his speech at Westminster College in Truman's home state of Missouri.  The fiery orator stunned Americans by saying Stalin and the Soviet Union were not 'friends' of the free world, but are in fact a ruthless police state seeking total control of people and governments in eastern Europe, he said an 'Iron Curtain' has descended over post-war Europe.


    Okinawa has 722 sq. miles and japan proper has 145,000 sq miles. When I was in Japan in the 1960 or so, one could still see plenty of evidence of how dug-in the country had been.  

    Battle of Okinawa: 14,000 Allies killed, 65,000 wounded. Japanese from mainland---70,000 dead, including suicides. Okinawans---somewhere between 42,000 and 150,000 died.

    Our next door neighbor, who died last summer, was in Operation Iceberg, Navy, the Okinawa invasion. Horrific bloodbath. He never wanted to talk about it until his last year, after his wife died, he shared some pictures of his ship, LST, acknowledged that he saw Kamikazes (and that was all he would say), the Kamikazes were never more numerous than at Okinawa.

    John Masters, in his classic The Road Past Mandalay summed up fighting with the Indian Army and allies against the Japanese (in Burma - I previously copied this from his book, a masterpiece on the war):

    There were Chins, Kachins, Karens, and Burmans, mostly light brown, small boned men in worn jungle green, doubly heroic because the Japanese held possession of their homes, often of their families, too; and until about now, how could they be sure which side would win? There were men from every state in the United States. They flew heavy bombers, they ran railroads, they drove titanic trucks at breakneck speeds through the narrow streets of primeval villages....Lastly, and in by far the greatest numbers, there were the men of the Indian Army, the largest volunteer Army the world has ever known. There were men from every caste and race-Sikhs, Dorgras, Pathans, Madrassis, Mahrattas, Rajputs, Assamese, Kumaonis, Punjabis, Garhwalis, Naga head-hunters-and from Nepal, the Gurkhas in all their tribes and subtribes, of Limba and Rai, Thakur and Chhetri, Magar and Gurung...There were men as purple black as the West Africans, and men as pale and gold wheat of skin as a lightly sun-tanned blond. They worshiped God according to the rites of the Mahayana and Hinayana, of Sunni and of Shiah, of Rome and Canterbury and Geneva, of the Vedas and the sages and the Mahabharatas, of the ten Gurus, of the secret shrines of the jungle....There were men who had never seen snow and men who seldom saw anything else. No one who saw the 14th Army in action, above all, no one who saw its dead on the field of battle, the black and the white, and the brown and the yellow, lying together in their indistinguishable blood on the rich soil of Burma, can ever doubt that there is a brotherhood of man; or fail to cry, what is Man, that he can give so much for war, so little for peace?

    Lastly, there was our common, single enemy-the Japanese. They are the bravest people I have ever met.  In our armies, any of them, nearly every Japanese would have had a Congressional Medal of Honor or a Victoria Cross.  It is the fashion to dismiss their courage as fanaticism but this only begs the question. They believed in something, and they were willing to die for it, for any smallest detail that would help to achieve it.  What else is bravery?  They pressed home their attacks when no other troops in the world would have done so, when all hope of success was gone; except that it never really is, for who can know what the enemy has suffered, what is his state of mind?  The Japanese simply came on, using all their skill and rage, until they were stopped, by death. In defense they held their ground with a furious tenacity that never faltered.  They had to be killed, company by company, squad by squad, man by man, to the last.

    By 1944 many scores of thousands of Allied soldiers had fallen unwounded into enemy hands as prisoners, because our philosophy and our history have taught us to accept the idea of surrender.  By 1944 the number of Japanese captured unwounded, in all theatres of war, probably did not total one hundred. On the Burma front it was about six.

    For the rest, they wrote beautiful little poems in their diaries, and practiced bayonet work on their prisoners.  Frugal and bestial, barbarous and brave, artistic and brutal, they were the 'dushman', and we now set about, in all seriousness, the task of killing every one of them.    



    My father was in the 7th Infantry Division, which fought, first in the Aleutians, then in the South Pacific.  He didn't talk about that time much.  I have found some photos he took after the battle of Kwajalein in early 1944.  The 7th Infantry was scheduled to be part of the invasion of Japan (Operation Downfall) which was scrapped when Japan surrendered following the dropping of the atomic bombs.  After my dad died in February of 1971, my mother received an odd letter from the government asking how he died.  (He had cancer.)   The letter insinuated my dad may have been exposed to radiation from the atom bombs.  (I'm not sure where he was in the South Pacific when the bombs were dropped.)  I don't know if my mom ever responded to the letter.  I don't think she wanted to know.  


    From what I can find the 7th Infantry Division did occupy Japan, but only 3 regiments, starting in 1948.

    Marines were often the first ashore even for the occupation. Most of the radiation would be gone by then except for reported caesium 137 contamination around Nagasaki, due to rain causing it to descend to earth after the bomb hit.

    Most fallout supposedly went 'out to sea'.

    The lethal radiation was from gamma rays from the blast itself.

    The first US troops in Nagasaki arrived Sept. 23, 1945, according to a Greg Mitchell who wrote a book on troop exposure called "Atomic Cover-Up". I haven't read it.

     My dad was a 1st Lieutenant in the Army and was back home by March or April of 1946. ( My sister was born in January of 1947)

    My dad was in the Pacific Theater also.  He fought in the Marianas. He was a Army Medic and sent to Siapan as support for the Marines that initially invaded Siapan the summer of 1944. This included Guam.  I don't know what Division he was in.  But he did tell us that they fought for several months to secure the Marianas from the Japanese. They were packing up their field hospital for deployment when the word came that Japan had surrendered.  

    The Marines had some very tough going.  I had a patient from the 2nd Marines who I knew was a WW2 vet. He told me he was at Guadacanal, Tarawa, Saipan and Tinian. He said after Tinian he was told he shouldn't still be alive and they sent him to do training stateside.

    He was there in the Marianas a little over a year.  After the fighting he spent his time on Siapan in a Field Hospital working with nurses. He came back state side and worked at the hospital at Camp Lee, Va. until he mustard out the summer of 46.  

    There was another option tried - we firebombing Tokyo and killed maybe as many as in Hiroshima (though bonfires take longer)_ and repeated in Dresden. And we did jungle warfare hopping island to island, with suicide contingents holding out to the bitter end. Moreover, I think the bomb combined with the super-rapid advance of the Soviet Union's army (500-1000km per week?) finally got through toothed Japanese that there would be no suicide holdout on the mainland - Stalin wasn't going to do Stalingrad 2.0 - he would have butchered Japanese cities worse than he left Warsaw and never left Japanese territory, and he came very close to launching attack on the north island. Too much retro navel gazing - the Japanese would have been the Eastern Iron Curtain/gulag if they'd waited 2-3 weeks. And like in Eastern Europe, we wouldn't have been able to do anything about it. Look at North Korea and the toehold that saved South Korea 65+ years of iron fist communism. Sometimes the choice is atrocity vs bigger atrocity.

    The war WAS OVER for chrissakes. I mean our allies and our forces had already won on the European Front. But this war was gone. And we did it, we accomplished this by getting all of our resources together, which means socialism in the extreme. And it worked. And with all of 'our sins' we vanquished the enemies. We ended up with other enemies later on, but WE won the day and it was over and so were socialistic measures such as coupons and such. And we began making cars again instead of tanks and we basically turned weapons into plowshares and this was a GREAT DAY.


    I appreciate this post. I've been remembering my grandparents all day. Thanks.

    Both of my grandfathers volunteered for service during WWII in their thirties. I don't think that was uncommon. My dad's dad fought in Italy and France as part of the 7th Artillery (I think). He never once mentioned the war to any of his grandkids. In fact, none of us knew he was a WWII veteran until his funeral--shit, 34 years ago this week! (If anyone gets a chance to ever watch G.I. Joe with Robert Mitchum and Burgess Merideth, there's my grandpa, Pfc. John Francis Flynn, opening the present of slippers my grandma sent him for Christmas, 1944. True story.) My mom's dad, Lieutenant Commander Gordon Leen was on a destroyer somewhere in the pacific. Growing up I knew he'd been in the Navy during the war, but he never talked about it either. His service dress blues hung in his hall closet as long as I can remember, never touched as far as I could tell. And then there's all the people stateside who volunteered in their own ways: my grandmothers, my great-grandparents, my great aunts and uncles. Remarkable. 


    An excellent post, trking. Brings back a lot of memories.

    Many WWII veterans ended up in Ohio because they were offered jobs in industry.  Growing up you would always see pictures of dads in uniform on display in homes. Saturday morning pancake breakfasts at the local Veterans Hall was a common event or parents going to dances on Friday night at the hall and all the veteran groups would show up to march in parades. Color Guards was a common event at funerals.  I remember wearing little red poppy pinned on my dress at school the day after Memorial (Decoration Day) or Veteran's Day in the fall. May Day (1st) we would make little paper baskets and put spring flowers in them and hang them on doors of widows.  We would ring the door bells and run away. I think this was more of a regional tradition.  I don't think many do this anymore. 

    There is a lot of memories tied to those years after WWII. 

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