Remembering the lessons of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima

Mike Staton
This post written by Mike Staton.

World War II started for Americans with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and ended four years later with two Atomic bombs dropped from B-29s on Japanese cities.

Not many remain alive from that day long ago – December 7, 1941.

No more than 2,000 veterans who were there on the Sunday morning the Japanese attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor, according to the Washington Post. All in their 90s or older.

Soon, all Americans who fought in World War II will join the veterans of World War I and the Civil War, all under tombstones, their personal stories found only in history books and TV documentaries.

battleship sinking
More than ever I think it’s important to remember Pearl Harbor, the start of World War II for America, and the end — two atomic bombs dropped on Japanese cities.

It wasn’t that way in the 1950s and the early 1960s when I was a kid growing up in Wadsworth, Ohio, and then Rialto, California. I knew World War II veterans. Some were family – my dad, in the Army Air Force’s Eighth Army toward the end of the war, an uncle, Jack Kelly who served in the American Army in Europe, and another uncle, Russell Snyder, a sailor in the Navy.

Nowadays, if I asked someone in their 20’s about Pearl Harbor or the Corregidor Death March or the Battle of the Bulge, they’d look at me with uncomprehending eyes. So many are quite content to wrap themselves in a blanket of ignorance.

Arizona Memorial
The American battleship Arizona rests beneath the Pearl Harbor Memorial.

Japan, Germany and Italy are now our allies. The Japanese – as well as the South Koreans – could soon be our allies in a war against North Korea. I fear that such a war could see casualties not seen since World War II. I’ve heard that up to 20,000 South Koreans could die per day in artillery barrages. Nerve-gas warheads on North Korean intermediate range missiles could rain down on Japanese cities. Longer-range missiles with chemical or biological warheads could be targeted at Guam and Hawaii. Even worse, if we miscalculate, ICBMs could hit any cities in city in the continental United States. North Korea is such a closed society it’s hard to tell just how advanced they are with placing working nuclear warheads on ICBMs. If they’re further along than we think, American cities could be incinerated. And even with our ABM technology, can we be sure we can destroy every incoming North Korean ICBM?

war headline
Newspaper headlines tell Americans of Christmastime 1941 that America has been attacked by Japan.

I don’t know about you, but I’m scared as hell. Back during the Second World War, British, German, Russian and Japanese civilians faced death from bombs dropped by bombers. Due to distance, American cities escaped the carnage. I fear we won’t escape it this time.

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I’m an author with four published novels that include a sword-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The fourth novel is a historical romance set during the Civil War. It’s called Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep. I’ve begun writing my second Civil War novel – Deepening Homefront Shadows. All my novels can be purchased via the website of my publisher, Wings ePress, as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

10 thoughts on “Remembering the lessons of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima

  1. My mother’s birthday just happened to be December 7th. When she was alive, she once told us that her family was living in Georgia at the time. They were driving to the countryside for a picnic when they heard about Pearl Harbor on the radio. Her father turned the car around and drove back to town, and there was no birthday celebration that year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the story of your mother’s birthday on Dec. 7, 1941. That’s what makes passed-on memories so special and important. More than 16 million Americans served in the military in World War II out of a population of 133 million. The war touched every American family. One night in 1965 an aunt of mine showed me her V-mail from the town of Rittman’s boys were serving in Europe and the Pacific. She and her husband ran the town’s bakery back in those days, and all the boys of Rittman, Ohio, loved her.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your post brings back memories, Mike–or memories of other people’s memories. My father served in Northern Europe and my mother was an office manager in Army Civil Service in Dallas during those years. She told stories about her work; my father never said anything about his. He went in at Omaha Beach on June 19, and as a driver was spared some of what the infantry went through. He became deaf from bomb concussion, spent the last months of the war as an ambulatory patient in a Paris hospital, and came home with two hearing aids, one of which he never wore because that ear was too much damaged for it to help. My mother said when he got home, he gave her his uniforms, told her to get rid of them, and went on with life; she also said of all the young men she knew who served, he was the least changed. But we didn’t watch war movies. I’m scared as hell, too. The scariest book I’ve ever read is Nevil Shute’s On the Beach. I don’t think younger people have any idea of what could happen.


    1. I can see why your father didn’t want to talk about the war. I like the bit about him giving his uniforms to your mother and telling her to get rid of them. One of my roommates father was a war correspondent during World War II. He saw Mussolini’s body and was aboard the U.S.S. North Carolina in the Pacific during island bombardments. He later became a correspondent for U.S. News and World Report — Howard Norton.


  3. I think that war, as all are probably, was a culture changing event for our country and a life changing event for many. I, too, fear what could happen with our current shrunken and web connected world, in a culture where many seem to have no loyalty to country or interest in the current or past situations. Or the future. Disaster has a way of grabbing our attention and resetting our priorities, but I’d rather not have to do it that way. Very scary on many levels. Interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had relatives in all of the wars, the most relevant to me was Viet Nam. I was very scared for my brother. I was 13 when he went into the military. He didn’t get much training before he was shipped off to Viet Nam. The war in Afghanistan was and is very scary to me. My grandson has been there twice, and his wife once. They are both still in the military. I am concerned about North Korea. I believe we can handle anything they have, but there’s always the chance that something will slip through. Thanks for remembering Pearl Harbor for the rest of us, and thanks for always recognizing all of our Military past and present. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I recently read a book about a number of people that decided they didn’t want any parts of how things were evolving in the world back during the days of Vietnam. The moved to the mountains of WV and lived off the land as best they could. With everything going on in the world now I understand their mindset.


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