Obama’s Hiroshima Trip Fuels Questions, Concerns From American Veterans
Barack Obama will become the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima later this month in an unprecedented move to push for a world without nuclear weapons.
The White House has cheered the move as an opportunity for the president to honor the dead of World War II, and more specifically those who died when the United States dropped the first deployed atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
But some retired U.S. veterans, including some from World War II, who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about Obama’s forthcoming trip offered tepid if not critical perspectives of the move. Some characterized the trip as unnecessary and potentially damaging.
“I don’t see why he needs to go there, but if he does go there, I hope he does not apologize for anything President Truman did during World War II,” said Clarence Bacon, who served as a chief storekeeper in the U.S. Navy during the war and was stationed in the Atlantic aboard Truman’s presidential yacht.
“President Truman made the decision to drop the bombs into two Japanese cities, and that resulted in killing a lot of Japanese people, but it also resulted in saving many, many, many more lives around the world, including American lives, because it quickly ended World War II,” Bacon, a past national commander of the American Legion, said.
“I think he is just stirring up old wounds. He should let sitting dogs lie,” Seaman 1st Class Martin Cody, who served in the Atlantic during the Korean War, said.
“The first impression was, ‘Oh my, don’t go there,’” said Col. Frank Cohen, who was drafted by the Army in 1943 and placed in an intelligence unit in Europe during World War II. He called the trip a “drastic step” and insisted that Obama face the challenge of communicating his points to the Japanese people in a “sensitive way.”
Cohen also noted the possibility of the president “put[ting] his foot in his mouth.”
“It’s an awfully difficult point to get across to people who got clobbered in World War II with the bombs,” he said of Obama’s forthcoming reflections at the site, which are expected both to acknowledge the lives lost in the war and emphasize his commitment to eliminating the nuclear threat globally.
An atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and another over Nagasaki days later. The two bombs killed over 100,000 people instantly. About a week later, Japan announced its surrender.