Inside the Capitol

Friday, December 02, 2005

12-7 Pearl Harbor, etc

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- In a V-J Day column last summer, I lamented that none of the calendars in our house recognize that our victory over Japan 60 years ago was the most celebrated day in our nation's history.
Today, it is forgotten, erased from memory lest we hurt anyone's feelings.
But the feelings we should be worried about hurting are those of the brave men and women who fought in that war, who risked their lives to assure our freedom to ignore their sacrifice. We also should think about the feelings of those who lost loved ones in that war.
In that column, I expressed the desire to find a calendar that indicates V-J Day and also V-E Day, in May. I said I not only wanted to buy such a calendar, I wanted to give the printing company some publicity.
A few days later, I received an e-mail from retired Air Force MSgt Earl Nielson, in Alamogordo, saying his B-17 Flying Fortress Historical Calendar, from a company called Bomber Legends, has both V-E Day and V-J Day on it.
I quickly went to their Web site. Instead of ordering the B-17 calendar, I ordered the biggest, fanciest calendar they had. When I received it a short time later, I was disappointed to find that V-E Day and V-J Day were nowhere to be found.
In an e-mail to the company, I told them of my disillusionment. A reply soon came explaining that the fancy calendar was an experiment this year and was printed by a different company.
A few days later, a package arrived with a complimentary B-17 calendar and a B-24 Liberator calendar, along with three issues of Bomber Legends magazine.
So now I'm set. When the free calendars arrive from my banker, my stockbroker and Jack Daniels, I can toss them because they have been found lacking. I can fill the house with Bomber Legends calendars.
If you would like to do the same, just call old George Welsh, toll free, in Ramona, California, at 866-788-3624 or visit his Web site at But please remember not to buy the expensive one.
Today, of course, we observe the beginning, rather than the endings of World War II. A few calendars still recognize "Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day." Evidently it is somewhat more politically correct to recognize our defeats. That won't hurt anyone's feelings but our own and, somehow, that is now all right.
I certainly wish I got to make up the rules.
Just as I did with the past two years of Billy the Kid adventures, I will be compiling this year's World War II columns into a book that will be available from Sunstone Press in Santa Fe.
It will follow the New Mexico National Guard from its activation in early 1941 to its release from prison camps in the fall of 1945.
It also will follow my personal odyssey last summer, tracing the war in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to Nagasaki, with stops at the major battlegrounds from Midway and Okinawa in the north to Guadalcanal and New Guinea in the south.
At this time 60 years ago, most of the 900 surviving members of the New Mexico National Guard were leaving their hospitalizations at Bruns in Santa Fe and several other hospitals in the Western United States and heading to their homes around New Mexico.
Appreciation banquets were held for them. They were glad to be home, but the trauma of three-and-a-half years of captivity made it difficult for many.
Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, who stuck with his troops on Bataan and Corregidor and endured the same prison camp hardships, came to New Mexico to honor the fierce fighters of the 200th and 515th Coast Artillery regiments.
In a December 1945 speech in Deming, the location of the 200th's headquarters, Gen. Wainwright acknowledged that the 200th was the first unit to go into action defending the American flag in the Pacific. They also were the last still fighting when they were surrendered.
WED, 12-07-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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