Lessons from history important

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Reader’s Viewpoint

On behalf of my deceased father, who was a WWII veteran, and those of his era, I  want to share with you a few paragraphs from Tom Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation,” about former U.S.

Senator Mark Hatfield’s experience.

‘”We sailed by the USS Missouri as the Japanese diplomats were going aboard to sign the terms of surrender. Quite a moment. MacArthur had instructed the Japanese to place a white sheet in front of every gun emplacement, so when we were coming into Toyko Bay it was like a checkerboard on all sides of us. We would

have been caught in a murderous cross fire in the invasion. It would have been terrible, terrible, invading Japan,” Hatfield concludes.

In September 1945, Hatfield had a one-day experience that

would affect his life and his political behavior forever. “I was part of a crew of people that went into Hiroshima,” he says. “This was about a month after the bomb had been dropped. There was a smell to the city-and total silence. It was amazing to see the utter and indiscriminate devastation in every direction, and to think just one bomb had done it. We had no comprehension of the power of that bomb until then.”

Hatfield says as the American party sailed into the canals, Japa-

nese parents and their children watched silently “When we landed, the little kids saw we weren’t going to kill or shoot them, so they began to gather around. We realized they were very hungry, so we took our lunches and broke them up and gave them to as many kids as we could.”

In that moment, Hatfield came to realize something that stays

with him to this day. “You learn to hate with a passion in wartime,” he says. “If you don’t kill your enemy, they’ll kill you. But sharing those sandwiches with the people who had been my enemy was sort of a therapy for me. I could almost feel my hate leaving me. It was almost a spiritual experience.”’

The men and women Tom Brokaw refers to as the greatest generation can still teach us.  Their lessons, and especially this one

from Senator Hatfield at this particular time, are profound.

Carol Blades


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