Thursday, December 1, 2011

THE WAR gets 5 stars from Reep

When I was on study sabbatical a couple summer's ago, I picked up a used book on CD at the library. It was Ken Burns' "The War", his documentary of World War II. I never listened to it and it sat in my truck door compartment until a few weeks ago. On one of my many 90-minute trips to my favorite hunting location, I started listening to the book (8 CD's total). It is a riveting documentary. I wish I would have listened to it earlier and had my Dad listen also. He was a pretty big war buff. He would tell you that World War II was the last "necessary" war the U.S. fought. He was a veteran of the Korean War, which colored his outlook on how the U.S. Military should be used. There appears to have been an incredible unity among U.S. citizens concerning the necessity of being part of World War II, a kind of national one-mindedness seemingly long gone in our country.

As for dropping the bombs on Japan? Even Burns, the liberal political activist, seems to admit there was no real choice. The Japanese Emperor would have fought until every Japanese citizen was dead and a million allied troops with them. War is hell, no doubt.

World War II was complex, to say the least, but I think Burns does a good job simplifying the story without leaving out anything major. I quibble with some of his characterizations of allied commanders, but not majorly. Burns is of a different ideological stripe than I, and I think his lack of mentioning the role Christianity played in 1940's American culture is a poor oversight. Still, I highly recommend both his book on CD and the actual PBS documentary, which I just picked up for $20 on Ebay!! Total steal.

There are relatively few WWII vets still living. Within the next 10 years they'll probably all be gone. This documentary gave me a greater appreciation for our country and the brave people who have defended and preserved it.


Rick Calohan said...

When I went for my undergrad at UMKC my major was History and I took as many World War II courses that were available. My senior thesis was, In Defense of Harry S. Truman: The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb. Oddly enough it was the last “declared” war the United States has been in. The church I use to attend were the sons of Italian immigrants who were Presbyterians of the Waldensians stripe. They eventually settled in the Kansas City Northeast side known then as Little Italy, The North End, Columbus Park, these men fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Normandy, Omaha Beach, fought with Patton 3rd Army in the Battle of Bulge, liberated concentrated camps, were among those brave who island hopped the Pacific and liberated the people under Japanese oppression, and eventually would occupy Japan. Many went to their graves in silence afraid to relieve the horror, but occasionally a story would come from them, how they were the only one who survived in the tank that was shelled, how they treated the victims of Nagasaki after war. The decision to drop the atomic bombs can be debated, however, given what we knew at the time, there was no other choice, had we not dropped the bomb, Japan could have easily fallen under the Soviet sphere which we had already begun to see what was happening in Eastern Europe, had we invaded the main island the war would have lasted at least another three years. In June 1945, Truman asked for military estimates to see how costly an invasion would be. The Joint War Plans Committee prepared a report for the Chiefs of Staff, dated June 15, 1945. In it the estimates for the invasion of Southern Kyushu, followed by the Tokyo Plan would have killed forty thousand military personnel, leave one hundred and fifty thousand wounded, three thousand five hundred missing giving a total of one hundred and ninety three thousand casualties. What revisionist refuse to see is that the bombs were the final nails in Imperial Japan’s coffin. If you have not been to the National World War I museum you should visit. For one it will open your eyes as to what would become the root causes of World War II, and second some of the vets who volunteer and give tours are members of the VFW and served in the Korean War.

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Woody Woodward said...

This past weekend we were so blessed to see so many WWII veterans enjoying Branson Mo, a city where every veteran is publically recognized and honored. At every show we have ever attended, the group’s leader asks all the Vet’s to stand! A huge lumps in your throat as you see these brave elderly proudly slowly stand up for our Country and receive a round of applause that is so deserving. Every American, especially those who say the “bomb” was the wrong decision, should make a trip to our wonderful Truman Library. Watching the historical films that haven’t been “revised” by some liberal journalist, is quite an eye opener.
I was honored to get to know your great dad. I loved his laugh and his keen sense of humor. I considered him my own Pop!