Naturally I trotted off to the annual peace rally at City Hall every August, to commemorate the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Paper cranes floating in the reflecting pool. Candles. A moment of silence. The whole bit.
What you have to know about Toronto’s City Hall is that the giant public square out front has a “peace garden.” It features an eternal flame and an exterior designed to look like a bombed out Japanese house.
When I met the guy I ended up marrying, on one of our first dates he quipped that he wanted to move the Churchill statue right into the “peace garden,” so it would look like he was, shall we say, urinating on the eternal flame. That was over 12 years ago. I balked. I figured “nuking Japan was a horrible thing” was a pretty unimpeachable view to hold.
But my husband is a WW2 buff; that’s how I learned about the atrocities the Japanese carried out against soldiers and civilians, and that those two bombs saved half a million American lives that would have been lost in a drawn out land invasion with a fanatical enemy made up of brainwashed pagan suicide bombers who thought Americans were literally devils. (Cough.)
I knew all about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but I’d never heard of Nanking.
Until I met my husband, I’d also never heard of the most decorated American unit of the war. If you haven’t heard of them either, I hope you’ll check them out.