V-J Day. Sixty years ago today, victory in Japan, and thus, the world. Americans, British, Canadians, Australians, all rejoice, while in the Pacific, the sorrows are beginning. With the power of the atom the Japanese have been annihilated into submission. For it is not just another bomb, it is one that will, indeed, change the world.
Vernon Victor Beacham. Just another of thousands of the boys fighting for their country, drafted but proud to serve. Barely twenty at the end of the war, he is serving on a ship in the Pacific as a radio operator. Wondering if he would ever see his brothers again, wondering would the Japanese ever give in? And on this day, sixty years past, he knows he will soon be going home. Because of that terrible, wonderful invention, that prevented casualties for the Allies, yes, but wreaked its horror on unknowing civilians and soldiers alike. He is not a casualty, and he is my grandfather.
This is truly a war unlike all before it, and this time no one is fool enough to call it a war to end all wars. The participants, I know, are left with a deep love of America, and a penchant to ride to the rescue. And some may never be able to forgive the Japanese, for no matter what they learned and what the Navy gave them, the Japanese are the enemy. They stole time from his life, and indeed, the lives of many of his comrades. He is alive, as is his family, and will live the American Dream. But he will never forget.
Vernon Beacham marries Sonora Divers, has fifty-eight years and counting of the Dream. And one day his granddaughters grow up, and they wonder, "What was it like? How did you survive?" But he cannot speak of it. America gave him an education for his brilliant mechanical mind, and these stories he tells. But of combat, of the things his young mind saw and absorbed, I rarely heard. Until something changed, until perhaps he realized his mortality and began to tell of his experiences.
And now I listen, try to understand all I can. Because I know that without him, and others like him who sacrificed so much, my country would not be what she is today. And perhaps without the atomic bomb he would have been among the many 'further casualties', and I would never have come to be. I don't know what would have happened, but I do know that I am proud of him. He taught me to love America, to be active and do what I can for her, and to believe that through our efforts she can change, become better. So on this day, the sixtieth anniversary of V-J Day, I wan to say thank you, for the veterans of World War II, Europe, the Pacific, the Home Front. Your stories will live forever, and your efforts will not be forgotten. Remember...