Posted in Musings and Reflections

Learning to Love an Enemy – After Pearl Harbor: The final U.S. bombing mission over Japan in WWII – The Washington Post

“We have to understand that killing for what you believe is the heart of evil. And it still goes on,” he said. “We’re all human beings together. I’m representing hopefully, humbly, honestly, the 16 million I served with in World War II.” J. Yellin

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/12/07/jerry-yellin-flew-the-last-mission-over-japan-in-wwii-then-he-learned-to-love-his-enemy/?utm_term=.5086734e9490

Posted in Longreads and Essays

The Unknown Soldier – Remembering a Veteran of Peace

CPS31dormOn this Veteran’s Day, I honor my grandpa who, rather than go to war, joined Civilian Public Service (CPS) as a Conscientious Objector (CO) during Word War II.

He left a young wife and did not return, except on brief furloughs, for four years. My dad, born during that time, wondered who this visiting stranger was.

Rather than destroy, Grandpa, like the many other men in CPS, helped build the infrastructure of this country. They made fences, harvested food, built roads and dams, planted trees, worked in mental hospitals (and as a result helped change the quality of care of mental patients). They gave their sweat, toil, and sometimes, their lives, to care for this land and her people.

His younger brother was killed by a tree at another CPS camp, one of the many casualties that occurred among these men, deaths that are not memorialized in monuments or with parades. Grandpa never recovered from losing his brother or those four years of his life.

When he returned, they called him yellow. How unkind and so very untrue.

Life was never easy for my grandpa, but he was one of the most courageous men I have ever known, willing to face adversity, leave family and community, go against the flow, because his conscience and God forbade him from taking the life of another. His faith was something strong and real. His ultimate allegiance was to the Prince of Peace and to the Kingdom above all nations and kings.

Grandpa passed away in 2011. He will never receive a medal for his service nor would he want one anyway.

But he is the unknown “soldier” I honor on this and every Veteran’s Day.

Originally published here 2012

Posted in Longreads and Essays

The Unknown Soldier

On this Veteran’s Day, I honor my grandpa who, rather than go to war, joined Civilian Public Service (CPS) as a Conscientious Objector (CO) during Word War II.

He left a young wife and did not return, except on brief furloughs, for four years. My dad, born during that time, wondered who this visiting stranger was.

Rather than destroy, Grandpa, like the many other men in CPS, helped build the infrastructure of this country. They made fences, harvested food, built roads and dams, planted trees, worked in mental hospitals (and as a result helped change the quality of care of mental patients). They gave their sweat, toil, and sometimes, their lives, to care for this land and her people.

His younger brother was killed by a tree at another CPS camp, one of the many casualties that occurred among these men, deaths that are not memorialized in monuments or with parades. Grandpa never recovered from losing his brother or those four years of his life.

When he returned, they called him yellow. How unkind and so very untrue.

Life was never easy for my grandpa, but he was one of the most courageous men I have ever known, willing to face adversity, leave family and community, go against the flow, because his conscience and God forbade him from taking the life of another. His faith was something strong and real. His ultimate allegiance was to the Prince of Peace and to the Kingdom above all nations and kings.

Grandpa passed away ten year s ago. He will never receive a medal nor would he want one anyway.

But he is the unknown “soldier” I honor on this Veteran’s Day.

Posted in Musings and Reflections

Memorial Day Ballgame Conversation

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So I am watching the Nats play the Cards at their annual Memorial Day Ballgame (my birthday gift!).

The guy beside me strikes up a conversation about May birthdays. He’s a May baby too.

We start listing family members who have birthdays in May.

He tells me that today is his father’s birthday, that he would be 90 if he was still living.

I say my grandpa has passed away too.

“He served our country,” he says.

“Mine too,” I reply.

“Air Force,” he tells me.

CPS during World War II, I think.

But I don’t tell my neighbor that. He, like most Americans, has never heard of these forgotten heroes.

But I remember, Grandpa.

How your first born thought you a stranger because you only saw him briefly on furloughs.

How your brother died in an accident at another CPS camp.

How you put miles of fence posts in the ground, day after day, building a country rather than destroying one.

How you wrenched your back so badly that you had to have surgery and it pained you the rest of your life.

How they called you yellow at the factory when you came home.

They don’t remember.

But I do, Grandpa.

I remember.

Posted in Longreads and Essays

The Words of an Emperor and a Prince

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The emperor of Japan has been rather subtly cautioning his people to not so easily forget the past.

The current prime minister has been steering the country away from its pacifistic leanings into a more “normal” militaristic realm.

The emperor has used the recent WWII 70th anniversary commemorations to warn that the nation should remember the lessons of an overly aggressive Japan.

Long ago, a prince told his followers to love their enemies.

As one of the few nations of the world with a pacifistic constitution, Japan has offered the world a unique perspective with reference to the folly of war and militarization.

That nation as well as the rest of us would do well to heed the words of an emperor and a prince.

Posted in Longreads and Essays

5 Myths about Dropping the Bomb [List]

wpid-wp-1438519046343.jpegAs we approach the 70th anniversary of the US dropping the atomic bomb on Japan, the following information, as gleaned from a recent article in the Washington Post, is an attempt to correct some commonly held myths.

1) The bomb ended the war

Actually Japan was more afraid of an attack by the Soviet Union which dissolved its nonaggression pact with Japan and entered the war against it on August 8.

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2) The bomb saved 500,000 lives.

The US Joint War Plan Committee in June 1945 estimated that an invasion would cause 193,000 US casualties, including 40,000 deaths. A high number, yes, but not even close to the number often quoted.

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3) The bomb was the only alternative to an invasion.

Not so. Other alternatives included a demonstration of the bomb to Japanese observers at a test site or accepting a conditional surrender by Japan which would not shame the Emperor.

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4) The bomb was dropped only after the Japanese were warned ahead of time.

The US did not forewarn the Japanese which cities were to be bombed for the simple reason that they did not want the planes carrying the bombs to be shot down.

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5) The bomb gave the US a diplomatic advantage over the Russians.

The timing of the bombing was because the bombs were ready, not to prevent Russia from further engagement in the war. The bombings gave the US no advantage over a stubborn Russia in post-war negotiations.

I found the above information helpful in clearing up some misconceptions I had around these incidents. I hope you will find them helpful as well.

Regardless, let us use this time to prayerfully remember.

Let us also redouble our efforts to obliterate the bomb and all of its current kin from the face of this dear and precious earth.

Posted in PEACE GROOVES

Kamikaze

They screamed in out of the sun,
preface to a story that continues
to this day with chapters of
mushroom clouds, bloody atolls,
suicide bombers, and an economy
still wedded to the making
and selling of instruments of war,
with an explosive epilogue we are
heading hell bent for that
adds up to one big zero.