Erasing revisionist history

Without the atomic bomb, it is likely I wouldn’t have memories of my grandfather.

Like most of you, I have relatively happy memories of my grandparents. My grandfather, Americo Andrade, was a short, stocky, intelligent and tough man.

I remember touring museums in Albuquerque, N.M., with him. He was well-educated, and he never had to pay for his schooling.

Growing up, he sent newspaper clippings he thought I’d find interesting. He visited frigid Minnesota to watch my high school football games. I also remember his disapproval at some of my grades in school.

He taught me how to drive our silver Toyota Previa with a stick shift. It was on a dirt road. He reversed the vehicle and stepped on the gas and lectured me on how to steer in reverse. This was quite a shock to me, but Americo Andrade prided himself on his driving ability. I remember a lot about him. Eighteen years worth of important memories, and they’re all because of the atomic bomb.

Monday marked the 60th anniversary of the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II. The surrender came two weeks after a pair of nuclear devices were detonated over two Japanese cities, killing almost 200,000 people in the blasts and aftermaths.

The cable networks had quite a week showing off the damage and destruction caused by the atom bomb. Coupled with these images were the testimonies of survivors. Men and women at Hiroshima and Nagasaki glimpsed at hell.

But that suffering wasn’t nearly as great as the suffering saved by “The Bomb.” The Japanese military, as Adm. Chester Nimitz and Gen. Douglas MacArthur island-hopped their way to victory in the Pacific, was preparing for the last defense of Japan.

Their goal was to make an invasion and occupation so costly in U.S. lives that the U.S. public would force the government to sue for peace. No unconditional surrender. They wanted to keep their empire alive to rise again.

Six hundred thousand Japanese troops were moved to the island of Kyushu for the defense of that strategic location. Kyushu was, in fact, the target for the first stage of the invasion of Japan.

Kyushu is a large island of steep mountains and deep ravines. Its landscape would favor the defenders.

Kyushu is where my grandfather is convinced he would have died. While the nuclear bomb was en route to the Pacific, my grandfather was training for an amphibious assault on Japan.

My grandfather’s prediction might as well have been right. Casualty predictions on the U.S. side of the invasion of Japan were on the order of 200,000 men. This matches the ratio of casualties on other islands, such as Iwo Jima, where 21,000 defenders killed 7,000 Marines.

An assault on Japan would have been costly both for Americans and for Japanese. Ending a war as quickly as possible was and is the most moral of actions. While some debate the necessity of dropping the nuclear weapons on Japan, in my mind there is no debate.

I was fortunate to have good memories of my grandfather. Eighteen years worth of memories. There are millions of people who have memories of their grandparents, thanks to former President Harry Truman, scientists, and the crews of the Enola Gay and the Bockscar.

Marty Andrade welcomes comments at [email protected]