Inside the Capitol

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Do You Remember VJ Day?

SANTA FE – VJ Day isn’t celebrated anymore. It’s politically incorrect, I suppose, especially after all Japan has done for us. Imagine life without Sonys, Subarus and Suzukis.
For me, it was a big day, at the time. I can remember sitting on my grandmother’s front porch on August 15, 1945, listening to the sirens proclaiming Japan’s surrender. It meant that men my parents knew would be returning to Deming after a very long absence in Japanese prison camps.
But this year I had to look up the date. The end of all wars have been combined into what we call Veterans Day, November 11, when the armistice ending World War I was signed. And that isn’t celebrated much anymore. It sort of blurs in with Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
But New Mexicans who have been here for awhile have reason to celebrate victory over Japan. The New Mexicans from throughout the state who made up the 200th and 515th Coast Artillery couldn’t have lasted much longer in their Japanese prison camps and certainly wouldn’t have made it through a land assault by Allied troops.
Japan’s leaders had asked for twenty million kamikaze fighters to give their lives in suicide missions to repel our attack. And they may have recruited that many. It makes the current numbers of suicide bombers look pretty puny. If 20 million Japanese were willing to die, imagine the fate of their American captives.
But Japan surrendered. We won and everything was rosy, right? Listen to the words of famed CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow, three nights earlier on August 12, when it became obvious Japan would capitulate.
“Seldom, if ever, has a war ended leaving the victors with such a sense of uncertainty and fear, with such a realization that the future is obscure and that survival is not assured.”
Those words could have been uttered today. The end of World War II seemed fairly clean cut, especially when compared to the end of World War I, which concluded in such a mess that WWII was just a continuation.
But Murrow and others realized from the Soviet maneuvers in the closing days of WWII that the end was not in sight. The fall of the Soviets 35 years later again seemed pretty clean cut, but we’ve had many wars since.
Likewise the mission was not accomplished with the toppling of Saddam. We have politicians on both sides drumming up fear out of uncertainty in order to get our votes in November. The world has been facing its worst times ever for thousands of years and somehow the world hasn’t come close to ending yet.
But that hasn’t kept politicians and others from assuring us it will happen unless we surrender our wills to their kind guidance. We are now told to fear helicopters attacking shopping centers, crop dusters poisoning rural communities, limousines bombing banks, Arab tourists taking home movies in big cities, and exploding teddy bears.
Those of us who survived the ‘50s remember the Russians with their commie sympathizers in the United States hiding under every bed, plotting terrible things to turn us into compliant zombies.
It didn’t happen. And we’ll survive the current idiocy, too. No band of terrorists can destroy our republic or end our liberties. Only we can do that by handing those liberties over to the fear-mongering politicians mentioned earlier.
We are a big, open country, and it is possible that somebody could set off a bomb now and then. But it won’t be the end of everything. Other countries put up with much worse and survive quite nicely.
Besides al-Qaida can never be very effective. Have you noticed that when we catch one of them, it is always a top operative? The little guys never get nabbed. That indicates either a poor use of personnel or that they have all sheiks and no Iranians – or whatever is the politically-correct way to say that now.


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