Thursday, May 7, 2015

VE DAY       

Here in Kansas we are finally getting lovely spring rains.  Flowers and garden look so much happier than they did a week ago.  Unfortunately the moisture is probably too late for much of the wheat crop.  Farming---a very difficult, risky profession with often intangible rewards. The peaceful mornings and evenings, seeing wondrous sunrises and sunsets are one of the best.

Of course the life of soldiers are also risky and difficult.  Seventy years ago the world awoke to a much more peaceful time than it had since 1939. The Germans signed documents of surrender on May 7, 1945.  Americans were thrilled to hear President Truman on the radio the following day.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Never Say Never

Last Friday evening/night I traveled from St. Louis home to Hutchinson. The evening was beautiful, and the ride relaxing and inspiring as we chugged along the Missouri River on a tranquil spring evening.  A year ago, I swore, even with a complimentary ticket,  I would never again ride Amtrak after a horrendous trip --- 9 hours just from St. Louis to KC. (That is a long story).  Due to a variety of circumstances, I did take Amtrak, and I had a totally different experience. The train is definitely more leisurely and comfortable way to travel compared to flying or driving myself.
However, the horn of the train sounding through each town and crossing made me think of movies about the Jews being transported  to concentration camps during WW II. 70 years ago WWII was in its final days. The Nazis in Italy and Austria had already surrendered a couple of days ago. At the same time, there was a constant push to annihilate as many Jews as possible.  On May 3, the RAF sunk the German liner Cap Arcona and freighters Thielbek andAthen, all loaded with concentration camp prisoners about to be murdered (7500 killed, 2400 survive). The numbers are shocking especially since the people were killed by the allies. However, in much of the information I have read, camp prisoners related that they prayed the bombers flying over would drop their loads on the camps, especially on the smokestacks.  They knew many would die, but many more would be saved.
On the Eastern front---but the Western US,  the only civilians killed on US soil lost their lives 70 years ago yesterday.  The following article is from

On This Day: Japanese WWII Balloon Bomb Kills 6 in Oregon
On May 5, 1945, a woman and five children in Gearhart Mountain, Ore., were killed after discovering an explosive balloon launched by the Japanese military.
The Rev. Archie Mitchell was on an outing with his pregnant wife, Elsie, and five local youngsters when they found the odd-looking balloon. As Elsie and the children examined the balloon, it exploded, killing all six of them.

“I had heard of Japanese balloons so I shouted a warning not to touch it,” said Rev. Mitchell to the Seattle Times in June 1945. “But just then there was a big explosion. I ran up there—and they were all dead.”

In a little-known 1944 Fu-Go campaign, Japan released between 9,000 and 10,000 bomb-laden balloons that floated across the Pacific and were intended to explode in America, causing forest fires and panic.

Each balloon was armed with a 15-kilogram antipersonnel bomb and four 4.5-kilogram incendiaries, as well as a flash bomb to destroy evidence of the devices, writes Hugh A. Halliday in Legion Magazine.

Japan said it was retaliation for the 1942 U.S. “Doolittle raid,” in which American pilots bombed key targets in Tokyo, under cover of darkness, from aircraft carriers in the Pacific.

As the balloons landed, the U.S. government tried to hide the information from the American public, hoping the Japanese would abandon the campaign as ineffective. The press largely cooperated with the government’s secrecy efforts.
This Japanese balloon bomb was 

 photographed in New York on July 2, 1945