This week is the anniversary of the largest land-sea-air battle in world history. On this Good Friday before Easter, I think that it is only fitting for us to remember all those brave Americans who died to preserve our freedom on this anniversary, and what FDR said about our Faith in God.
The Battle of Okinawa is considered the largest land-sea-air battle in world history, and the last major battle of World War II. It began April 1, 1945, when 60,000 U.S. troops landed on the Island of Okinawa. It was called “The Typhoon of Steel” because of the hundreds of kamikaze attacks, where suicide bombers flew planes filled with explosives into American ships.
Fighting continued for 82 days. Kamikaze pilots sank 38 U.S. ships, and damaged 368 more, in what is considered the greatest loss of American ships in U.S. naval history. There were over 72,000 American casualties. Imperial Japan lost over 110,000 soldiers, in addition to nearly 150,000 Okinawan civilian casualties, many of whom were ordered by the retreating military to be human shields or to commit suicide, as the Imperial honor code, called “seppuku” or “harakiri,” considered surrender a shame worse than death.
Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent Ernie Pyle was killed in the battle, April 18, 1945, by Japanese machine-gun fire on an island northwest of Okinawa Island. Ernie Pyle had been embedded with Army infantry soldiers in Europe, North Africa and the Pacific.
Infantry soldiers were given “Government Issued” supplies, resulting in the initials “G.I.”
Ernie Pyle’s newspaper columns were turned into the 1945 movie, The Story of G.I. Joe.
Ernie Pyle wrote in 1943:
“I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can’t be won without.”
The fierceness of Japanese combat in the Battle of Okinawa convinced the U.S. Navy and Marines to expect over a million casualties if they attempted to invade the main Japanese islands. This convinced Democrat President Harry S Truman to drop the atomic bomb on the industrial centers of Hiroshima and Kyoto in August of 1945. Secretary of War Henry Stimson argued to spare Kyoto as a target. The city Kokura was then chosen, but on the fateful day cloud cover blocked the crews’ visual identification, so the bomb was dropped on nearby Nagasaki.
Tragically, Nagasaki had been the most Christian city in all of Japan.
Nagasaki was first visited by Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier in 1549, through whose efforts the powerful daimyo (lord) Ōmura Sumitada had been baptized. Over 300,000 Japanese became Christian by the end of the 16th century. Suffering intense persecution, the Kakure Kirishitan “Hidden Christians” or Mukashi Kirishitan “Ancient Christians” passed their faith on to succeeding generations, century after century.
Martin Scorsese’s movie SILENCE (2016) gives the account of missionaries to Japan and the persecutions suffered by Japanese Christians.
Emperor Meiji finally allowed religious freedom during the Meiji Restoration, 1868-1912.
From 1912 to 1926, Japan experienced unprecedented freedom and prosperity during the “Taishō democracy.”
Beginning in 1926, Japan’s Shōwa Emperor, Hirohito and his generals re-concentrated power politically into a totalitarian, militaristic state.
Emperor Hirohito’s Imperial Japan entered into a Tripartite Treaty with Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy and Adolph Hitler’s National Socialist Workers Party on September 27, 1940, being referred to as the “Axis Powers.”
After the Imperial planes had attacked Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt recited the reason the U.S. entered into war in his address to Congress, December 8, 1941:
“The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage … lives have been lost …Ships have been reported torpedoed between San Francisco and Honolulu …The Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya … Hong Kong … Guam … Philippine Islands … Wake Island … and Midway Island.”
FDR stated January 6, 1942: “Japan’s … conquest goes back half a century …
War against China in 1894 …
Occupation of Korea (1910) …
War against Russia in 1904 …
Fortification of the mandated Pacific islands following 1920 …
Seizure of Manchuria in 1931 …
Invasion of China in 1937.”
Invading Imperial soldiers massacred over 300,000 in Nanking, China, 1937-1938.
FDR concluded his address: “We are fighting today for security, for progress, and for peace, not only for ourselves but for all men, not only for one generation but for all generations. We are fighting to cleanse the world of ancient evils, ancient ills. Our enemies are guided by brutal cynicism, by unholy contempt for the human race.”
“We are inspired by a faith that goes back through all the years to the first chapter of the Book of Genesis: ‘God created man in His own image.’ We on our side are striving to be true to that divine heritage …”
“We are fighting, as our fathers have fought, to uphold the doctrine that all men are equal in the sight of God. ”
“Those on the other side are striving to destroy this deep belief and to create a world in their own image — a world of tyranny and cruelty and serfdom.That is the conflict that day and night now pervades our lives.”
“No compromise can end that conflict. There never has been, there never can be, successful compromise between good and evil.”
“Only total victory can reward the champions of tolerance, and decency, and freedom, and faith.”