Bright Cloudless Days Aren't Created Equal

This week President Obama took his apology tour on the road again. This time he was standing in Hiroshima, Japan, lamenting the fact that the United States had used atomic weapons to vanquish a ruthless enemy and bring an earlier end to a war that the United Stated neither wanted nor started.

Without saying the exact words, Obama apologized for the “wall of fire” that came from the sky on a “bright, cloudless day.” The president lectured that we must find a way for this to never happen again. The implication is that the citizens of Hiroshima, and three days later Nagasaki, were just going to work and school—minding their own business—when the imperial United States viciously attacked them with their new super weapon.

The lack of historical context in such remarks is stunning, especially coming from a sitting president, and it once again brightly illuminates the disdain that this man feels for the country that elected him to the highest office in the land. Twice.

Hiroshima was headquarters to the Japanese Second Army, responsible for defense of all of southern Japan. A valid military target. It took a second atomic attack, followed by intervention from Emperor Hirohito himself, to convince the militarists running the war to surrender. The planned invasion of Japan would have been extremely costly. Casualty estimates topped one million on both sides.

Seventy-one years ago this summer, another Democrat made a different speech. Speaking after the Hiroshima bombing, President Harry S. Truman reminded the people of the U.S., Japan, and indeed the world, that the United States would accept nothing less than total victory. He reminded the Japanese of the Potsdam ultimatum, issued two weeks before the bombing occurred, which demanded full surrender of all Japanese forces.  Truman promised that if they did not now surrender, Japan would be subject to a “rain of ruin from the air, the likes of which the world has never seen.” That president was proud of the country he served in the previous world war and expected nothing less than total victory.

What a difference it makes when the president puts the United States first, instead of believing that the U.S. is the villain in every international transaction. Truman’s was a time when the U.S. armed, fed, and financed the world. American industry was ‘the likes of which the world has never seen.’ And The U.S. had not yet celebrated her 175th Independence Day.

Make no mistake—it was freedom that made that happen, not any government program; not any wannabe dictator with a pen and a phone issuing unconstitutional edicts. The freedom to take a chance and reap the benefits. The very freedom that far too many today are willing to exchange for free stuff.

To be fair, one should give President Obama credit for being partly right. There was a bright, cloudless morning when citizens were going about their business, soldiers and sailors standing down after a hard week’s duty, when a sudden, unprovoked attack from the air brought walls of fire and the deaths of more than two thousand.

That was the morning of December 7, 1941, when Japanese forces attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It was the day that a sleeping giant awoke to the realities of a war that had been raging for years; a war in which the United States did not want to participate. Four hundred thousand more brave Americans would fall before that war ended with the only outcome acceptable—a complete victory.

Those are the lives the president of the United States should be remembering on Memorial Day weekend.