My wife had just read The Fall of Japan and we were having a discussion with Dean about our feeling over the dropping of the bomb. I told him that the number of people killed at Hiroshima meant nothing to us [Americans]. Our only thoughts were a giant sigh of relief and “its over, we won’t be getting any more telegrams.” Those telegrams always started, “We regret to inform you that your son has been killed ...” Each telegram sent a shock wave of grief through our community.
Pearl Harbor was vivid in our memories and I think there was a feeling of “you finally got what you asked for,” though I never heard it expressed exactly that way. The remembrance of the announcement of Pearl Harbor is still vivid in my mind 76 years later. On that day, our family was going to a funeral in Fremont and the newsboys on the corners were shouting the news. As a boy, I didn’t really know what it was all about but there was still a feeling in my mind of “We’ll get you guys for this.”
Several years ago I heard a commentator pontificating on the use of the atom bomb on the Japanese. It may have been Mike Wallace. He said that the number killed at Hiroshima shocked the American consciences and is etched on our psyche to this day. I could only think, “Fella, you weren’t there for Pearl Harbor or the telegrams. You never felt the pain.”
What brings this up now is that the attacks on Paris is their Pearl Harbor. Their feeling and those of much of the rest of the world must be no different from ours on that Sunday in December. I don’t think the number of ISIS killed in retaliation will grieve any Frenchman or leave a mark on their psyche. I was glad to see our president declare war on Japan. I wonder how long it will be before our media and our leaders realize that we are in a war and it must be treated as such. Will it take a Paris in America to wake them up?