Ken Beaton: The day a world war ended
September 2, 2012
If Dec. 7, 1941, is “A day that will live in infamy,” Sept. 2, 1945, gave peace a chance on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri, “Big Mo,” BB – 63. Japan’s surrender spared the pain and suffering of 1 million American casualties, tens of millions of Japanese lives and hundreds of millions of future generations.Do the math. Those million American servicemen were given a new lease on life. They came home, married the most wonderful gal in the world, used their GI Bill to complete their education, and made their contribution to the 1946-64 baby boom, a population bulge of 77 million.In January 1945, the Japanese military began training every Japanese male and female from age 6 to use bamboo spears to defend their homeland. They were instructed to kill as many invading American GIs as possible before they were killed.In 1943, our War Department began planning the invasion of Japan, Operation Downfall, which would have dwarfed D-Day. Nine atomic bombs would have been dropped inland from the three Kyushu landing zones before the invasion was to begin Nov. 1, 1945. American air superiority would drop massive amounts of napalm, an incendiary bomb that rapidly burns oxygen and everything it touches.From three years of island hopping in the Pacific, our Marines and GIs learned the Japanese did not surrender. Our military was not concerned with collateral damage, either. More atomic bombs would be dropped before the planned March 1946 invasion of the industrial heart of Japan, Operation Coronet. This would have reduced Japan to an atomic wasteland by 1947.The Japanese cabinet consisted of three military leaders, three civilian leaders and the emperor of Japan. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki were vaporized by atomic bombs in early August 1945, the cabinet met several times to discuss their options. The military members of the cabinet were against surrender. The civilian members were in favor of unconditional surrender to save tens of millions of Japanese lives. The cabinet was deadlocked until the emperor cast his deciding vote, for unconditional surrender.At 09:02 on Sept. 2, 1945, General Douglas McArthur spoke: “It is my earnest hope — indeed the hope of all mankind — that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past, a world founded upon faith and understanding, a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance, and justice.” Over the next 23 minutes the Allied and Japanese representatives signed the instrument of Japanese surrender, ending the war. Give peace a chance.• Ken Beaton of Carson City contributes periodically to the Nevada Appeal.