I will attempt to ply through these waters as delicately as possible.
Today is the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor. A gruesome, despicable affair. A premeditated assault on an unwitting foe. Following the threads on the “day that will live in infamy,” I can appreciate the horrors inflicted upon the soldiers and citizens of Pearl Harbor. 2,402 American citizens were killed; 1,282 were wounded. Hawaii was not a state, and wouldn’t be so until 1959. It was yet an annexed territory. The distance between Hawaii and Los Angeles is approximately 2,560 miles. The distance between Tokyo and Hawaii is approximately 3,800 miles.
The distance between Hiroshima and Tinian is 1,567 miles. Tinian is an island located in the North Mariana Islands just Northeast of Guam. It was from the airfield on Tinian that the atomic strikes launched on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were launched. These followed an ultimatum called the Potsdam Declaration issued on July 26, 1945, calling for the surrender of Japan.
Little Boy, dropped by the Enola Gay and detonated some 2000 feet over Hiroshima, Japan, had a complete destruction diameter of about 2 miles. The blast and resulting firestorm killed between 70,000 and 90,000 people. It’s estimated that by 1950, up to 200,000 were killed by the blast and resulting effects.
I will refrain from listing statistics about the bombing of Nagasaki.
I hope not to detract from the sadness of Pearl Harbor. The statistics of war death are a cumulative number of persons — people, that we knew, or somebody we know knew. A single death is upsetting, especially when it is a relation.
During the Vietnam war, the U.S. suffered approximately 58,000 KIA (killed in action, includes non-hostile) casualties. The NVA (North Vietnamese Army) suffered 1.1 million. In Afghanistan, as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the total U.S. casualties, in and around Afghanistan, including non-hostile, is 1,988 as of 09/05/2012, and beginning 10/07/2001. Between 2007 and 2012, there have been over 11,000 civilian Afghans killed.
I do not believe that war is immoral. I think of war as a necessity of human existence, especially when nations or peoples are controlled by the ideology of the fanatic. In WWII, the United States battled against the militaristic imperial. The Cold War (including Vietnam and Korea, although tragically misguided) was against the Soviet imperial, and, I believe, a well-founded war. The tragedy was not in the foundation but the application. The hot-zones were of little import to the true degradation, seen well into this century.
I only ask now that we understand the import of war. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki might well have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. However, it came at a major cost. We who remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor must also remember the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If we do not, we fail to understand war, and its full repercussions.