Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Why World War II Was Fought

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Why World War II Was Fought

Article excerpt

A respectful ceremony was held in Honolulu on Monday at the National Memorial that was the battleship Arizona. Memorial Day is set aside to remember those killed in all our wars. But on the golden anniversary of V-J Day, coming up on Sept. 2, we should go beyond remembrance.

V-J + 50 years is a time to re-experience, to understand and to profit from the greatest event of this century: the victory of the free world over the forces of Germany's Nazism, Italy's fascism and Japan's militaristic imperialism.

V-E Day, a nearly comparable commemoration, was botched by an administration eager to bolster the current Russian regime and snub the British. The historic moment was frittered away in a vain reach for transient summit success.

Unfortunately, the moment is being lost again by a failure of vision.

The three-day event in Hawaii is being planned by the Defense Department. Ceremonies will be held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific; 20,000 veterans and armed service members will parade; salutes will be offered to uniformed representatives of countries involved in or touched by the war.

The centerpiece will be the speech of the president aboard the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, with the Arizona in the background. Bill Clinton will stand in the spotlight during three days of military pageantry, with no other world leader present.

The event has been downgraded to the level of defense ministers. Military bureaucrats of 47 nations have been invited (including Russia, which helped little in defeating Imperial Japan; and Vietnam, opening the backdoor to diplomatic relations.)

The decision not to invite the president of the Philippines (Bataan, Corregidor) is dismaying; the absence of Britain's prime minister and the leaders of Commonwealth and other nations that helped win the war is an affront to history; the failure to invite the prime minister of Japan wastes an opportunity for reconciliation.

With no world leaders invited, no political or great moral lesson will be drawn from the victory. Little use will be made of the occasion to celebrate and advance the cause of freedom in Asia.

Much of the thinking that led to this planned military extravaganza has been: How can we get past this day without offending the Japanese? …

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