How I Met My Dad After World War II Ended
Dad Survived Potential Invasion
Because the choice to use the atomic bomb was made, my dad survived World War II. He and thousands of Army personnel boarded ships that crossed the Pacific to invade the island of Japan. Their orders to take the island were contingent on the success of the atomic bomb.
Even today, the use of the bomb is debated as to whether is was the right thing to do. My answer is "yes", the choice was obvious and correct. That opinion isn't based just on the fact that the bomb's use brought my dad home. As the bomb dropped, I was not yet born. Rather, my thoughts are based on the overwhelming evidence that the war would have continued without the bomb's use, and without relief in sight, meaning thousands and thousands more soldiers would have died, probably including my dad. Using the bomb actually contained that count, ending hostilities sooner than would have been the case without its use.
Dad's assignment, along with his fellows, was to physically invade the island of Japan if the bomb failed. Japanese troops had the island so fortified at the time that it would have been a horrifically bloody invasion with the American Army trying to scale walls and swarm the island's most guarded points of entry. The cost of life would have been unimaginable.
Locating Tokyo, Japan
Island of Japan
Tokyo -- Government Officials Disputed Pearl Harbor Bombing
Even as the Japanese government in Tokyo had disputed invading Pearl Harbor with a bombing raid to destroy the USA's naval fleet based there in 1941, the American government argued over the potential use of the atomic bomb to end the war nearly four years later.
Looking at a map uncovers the minuscule size of the country of Japan. One wonders how its government could justify a bombing raid on Pearl Harbor without considering the mighty response the Americans were certain to raise. (And raise they did!)
America's first major attack on Japan after declaring war on the Japanese Empire following Pearl Harbor came in April of 1942, when Lt. Gen James H. Doolittle and his crew bombed Tokyo. The war would drag on, but the Doolittle raid was the beginning of the end for the Japanese Empire.
The Atomic Bomb in World War II
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My Birth and Dad's Return
I was born on a cold January day in 1946. By then, my dad's Japanese invasion orders had changed to those of occupation operations and cleanup after the atomic bomb had obliterated two large Japanese cities, Nagasaki and Hiroshima. He was safe, but he didn't know he faced another challenge upon his return to America.
In June of 1946, at age six months, I wasn't to be easily won over by the stranger that invaded our home -- my Army dad. Hugging my mother, I refused to go to my dad's eager arms. I wanted nothing to do with this burly figure of a man who had suddenly appeared and wrapped himself around my mother. I hid my eyes against my mother's breast.
Dad Pulled Out A Toy Top
My dad, by now, didn't know the meaning of defeat. Determined to win me over, he laid on the floor and drew out a toy top. Remember those little triangular, whirling gizmos that spun round and round on a spindle base and went faster and faster with each pump of the top's straight up, knobbed handle?
Dad spun it, and I watched it from the safe haven of my mother's arms. In a few minutes, when I began to squirm and show some interest in the top, my mother put me on the floor beside the top and my grinning dad.
Mom and Dad As A Young Married Couple
A Wise and Winning Father Delights His Daughter
My dad didn't reach out to me after mother put me beside him on the floor. He wisely knew that would be too direct and scary for the daughter he was trying to win over. Instead, he merely kept on spinning the wobbling top as I watched with six-month-old baby bug eyes. (I know this because this story became family lore and was told at almost every family reunion thereafter!)
Casually, dad did the magical thing that captured my heart. He laid flat out on the floor and blew steadily and hard at the sides of the spinning top. The top whistled, for it was equipped with tiny holes on its sides that caused the air to speak as it spun.
My heart thumped, and my eyes widened and bulged out some serious attention. Around a big smile, my dad repeated his blowing into the top's side holes. The top whistled. I giggled. My dad blew some more and laughed. The top whistled, and I giggled. He blew. The top whistled its greeting. I giggled. My dad laughed. I planted a look at him and giggled. He blew, and I burst out a loud screech of delight.
As the top continued to whistle, and I continued to giggle and flap my hands, my dad laughed and laughed a soft laugh of love. I screeched and raised my arms, getting giddy with the bonding experience. Finally, my dad scooted over to me and gathered me close to him and craned his neck toward the top to blow at it. I screeched and snuggled and never again left his daddy arms.
In that small moment in time of love and delight, we became best friends for life.
My dad passed away on June 19, 2011, on Sunday, Father's Day. He still is sorely missed by his little laughing screecher (and her seven siblings.)
But we all, by the grace of God, had a lovely and memorable spin.