Harry S. Truman not in "that" list

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

"The temperature near the blast site reached 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The sky seemed to explode. Birds ignited in midair; asphalt boiled. People over two miles away burst into crumbling cinders. Others with raw skin hanging in flaps around their hips leaped shrieking into waterways to escape the heat.

"Men without feet stumbled about on the stumps of their ankles. Women without jaws screamed incoherently for help. Bodies described as 'boiling octopuses' littered the destroyed streets. Children, tongues swollen with thirst, pushed floating corpses aside to soothe their scalded throats with bloody river water."

If the preceding two paragraphs evoke visions of hell, it is because it is as it was in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. All hell broke loose in that Japanese city of 255,000 when on the morning of that fateful day, the American B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped the world's first atomic bomb on orders of US President Harry S. Truman.

The above-quoted two paragraphs were from a long article entitled "Harry Truman's Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb" published on the website of, quite interestingly, the National Park Service of the United States (nps.gov). It was the top search result when I Googled: US president Hiroshima bombing.

My search was prompted by another column in this paper about how, after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant of arrest against Vladimir Putin, the name of the Russian leader, as well as that of former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, have now been included in some list drawn by so-called law experts.

I could not Google the list as there was no proper identification or attribution. But as the supposed list that included Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Bashar al Assad, Idi Amin, the North Korean Kims and several others more, did not carry one name I earnestly believe should be there, I went to Google to qualify him.

And it was this article in the website of an American government agency that leapt out at me. According to the article, by August 1945, it was already clear to both Japan and the United States that Japan had lost. But Japan had chosen to fight on instead of surrender, just as the US had successfully tested its atom bomb only the month before.

Truman, who called the new weapon "the most terrible bomb in the history of the world," was faced with the decision whether or not to use it to end the war quickly. "It is an awful responsibility," Truman wrote, knowing that the new bomb was created to destroy and kill on a massive scale.

Truman had four options: Continue conventional bombing, invade Japan, demonstrate the atom bomb on an unpopulated area, or drop it where it can kill an unimaginable lot of people. Truman chose the latter. But Truman has never been held accountable for unleashing hell. He has not apologized either. If I can have my own list, he will certainly be there.

The reason I want to have my own list is because I know Truman will never end up in any other list that is either drawn up by Americans or influenced by them. In fact, I am inclined to believe as well that if Truman gets to be included in any list, it would be in that of heroes to any and all causes American.

And I know how Truman will qualify as an American hero: For quickly ending the war with Japan and thus saving the sacrifice of many more young American men's lives. Never mind if in so doing, he caused the most horrifying deaths ever foisted on hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.


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