The Un-Intended Consequence Of Honoring All Who Died

 “Ultimately, the aim of the speech was to do two things. To bear remembrance to ALL war-time dead (military or otherwise), and to endeavor to halt the progress and affinity that we as humans have for hating and killing each other!” –

The speech given by President Obama this last Friday May 27, 2016 at Hiroshima did not offer any kind of apology for the dropping of the first Atomic bomb, and he was correct in not doing so. Although a multitude of commentators have used Nationalism and pride in the American way of life as factors which made the President’s comments seem apologetic, all would be wise to consider that the text of the speech had little to do with war– per se, and much more to do with the human condition, and how we, all of us, might improve in the future.

Indeed, with Hiroshima as a backdrop which represents the most horrible elements of war, and even as those elements did eventually help to bring about victory and peace, the Atomic bomb at Hiroshima does equate to the beginning of the Atomic age. obama speech hiroshimaIn this light, and with hindsight as a tool, one would be considered to be a fool if he were to set out with violence as his endgame. If peace be the objective, then let us work as peaceably as possible. It is this ’s opinion that the mere presence and possession of weapons of mass destruction should be an active deterrent, to all Nations, against the use of force. No matter “who is right”, or “who is wrong”. I doubt that those who number among the dead care much of what had been their cause after eternity has begun.

If we consider, as Obama pointed out, that Hiroshima represents, whether we in the U.S. like it or not, a beginning point in the global arms race of atomic and nuclear weapons, then it is fitting to memorialize all of those who perished in that city on August 6, 1945. It is also proper to recognize, as Obama aptly did so, that that first use of an Atomic weapon in wartime was a pinnacle of sorts … made possible by human ingenuity and innovation, which is often commonplace during times of conflict. This use of the Atomic blast over Hiroshima, as the worst that war had to offer (in sheer scale), was a fitting example of why humanity should strive, at all costs, to avoid warfare.

Even still, the speech that Obama presented, to many in the American Homeland, was offensive at best and Traitorous at worst. Why? Simply put, Obama had the nerve to acknowledge that other human beings, on other sides of oceans, and living underneath the flags of distant regimes; have lives, families, and a humanity which matters!

In this global society, our American Holiday of Memorial Day, known prior as Decoration Day, is now recognized or at least acknowledged, the world over. Perhaps the rest of the planet does not hold the same reverence towards the Holiday, perhaps they do… but– it is fairly clear that the meaning of the Day is not lost on other Nations. All Nations have those who have fallen in battle; some have been military personnel, untold others have been civilians. This notion of civilians dying in war, as a commonality, is one area… one very conspicuous area that America is not especially experienced in. Other Nations, off the top of my head, and having to do with World War II, include Great Britain, Germany, and France… and Japan, among others, have offered up many more of their civilian populations. In recent times, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Bosnia, Iraq, and the ongoing War against Terror have killed and maimed untold millions of civilians. By and large, the U.S. populace is either unaware of these numbers, or simply does not recognize them as war-time losses. However, their home Countries and peoples do honor the civilian AND military dead, commemorating them as the unsung heroes that they are.

In the Hiroshima blast alone, over 100,000 civilians died. Many more would be counted if we consider the bombing campaigns over the nighttime skies of Germany and the firebombing raids of other Japanese cities. Of course, the number dead would skyrocket if one were to add to that mix the bomb which detonated over Nagasaki… or, if we combine the civilian dead of all other countries, Victors & Losers, across the spectrum of time. Against this, the average American, who has not bothered to read the words spoken by Obama, only weighs any number of American military dead against the totality of American civilian dead, which most likely numbers not over 5,000– considering all wars.

Do I imply that American lives do not matter? Absolutely not! Am I implying that Japanese lives don’t matter, or that the Japanese were justified in attacking Pearl Harbor? arlington decoration dayCertainly not. However, I am demanding that all– Americans and otherwise– begin to look past their National noses and consider the scope of humanity, and that YES, humanity as a whole is very important, perhaps– humanity and the sanctity of it is an exceedingly important thing; perhaps it is the MOST important thing, figuratively and literally, that any of us humans really do have to consider!

The fact that the speech at Hiroshima, made two days prior to our American Holiday of Memorial Day, did not include glaring overtures to only the war-time dead of the United States, is fitting, inasmuch as the speech was never meant to honor ONLY the war-time dead of the United States. Ultimately, the aim of the speech was to do two things. To bear remembrance to ALL war-time dead (military or otherwise), and to endeavor to halt the progress and affinity that we as humans have for hating and killing each other!

In fact, if those two particular aims of the speech were to be met, considered, and accomplished, I would be at a loss to find a more fitting tribute to any of our (or their) Fallen Heroes! Accordingly, Obama’s hopes for more peaceful and beneficial outcomes may have been the most fitting Memorial Day tribute of all. Perhaps it is a sad reminder of our inequity as a species that such a message was, and will continue to be, lost in divisiveness and hatred of our enemies– be it those of yesterday, today, or tomorrow.