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    Part of an photograph taken by Cpl. Lynn P. Walker, Jr. (Marine Corps) after the Nagasaki bombing.

    I Was at Nagasaki

    A Former Marine Looks Back

    By Paul Pappas

    August 4, 2016
    • SDSchutze

      My husband was given libery from his ship, USS Mobile, in Nagasaki two weeks after the atomic bomb was dropped there. He was not told of the radiation problem. A Japanese student invited him home to have tea with himself and his mother, and showed my husband his favorite book; GONE WITH THE WIND in Japanese. This foray ultimately killed my husband as radiation sickness later in life caused multiple chronic illnesses and literally peeled off his skin from his legs from walking through the ash. He was always proud of his military service, and I have received government benefits because of it. At the time, most of us were patriotic and believed what was done throughout the war was necessary. Today, I am not so sure. Hindsight is 100%

    • Greg Bourn

      When Constantine converted to Christianity 1700 years ago, Christianity became the religion of the empire, The very thing that Jesus adamantly rejected when he was tempted in the desert. Almost overnight Christianity changed from a religion of nonviolence and love your enemy, to a religion of horrific violence. It has largely been so ever sense.

    • Daniel D Davis

      I have the pictures that my father brought back from Nagasaki. Such desolation. He served in the USMC as a machine gunner in the South Pacific. I thought how odd that a machine gunner would be deployed to Nagasaki after the bomb. I think he suffered serious health problems from being there exposed to radiation. He survived as a machine gunner. Maybe not as exposed to radiation

    • Elizabeth Wiegreffe

      Even as a teenager ,not long after the war, I felt what we did was wrong. All those innocent lives and some of the consequences still go on in some lives. We ,as a country, need to repent for this as well as other crimes like slavery.

    • Pat Penner

      Thank you for giving voice to an issue that escapes so many followers of Christ. As an Anabaptist I was taught & still believe that my first allegiance is to God's Kingdom, not to earthly kingdoms, i.e. the American empire. I'm glad that you're questioning.

    • Tom

      Thanks so much for sharing this! As Gandhi said all those years ago, "An eye for an eye makes the world blind." War is tve most horrifying and blinding force we know. Yet, in the US we have presidents who view war as a stroll in the park!


      I would agree that bombing civilian populations (Dresden, Berlin, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki) was a war crime, but even with these crimes, we didn't win because we "killed the most people." The body count prize clearly goes to the Axis powers, whose victims number in the tens of millions. Also, it's not just Americans that would have died in an invasion of Japan. Such an invasion would have undoubtedly killed even more Japanese than our atom bombs did.

    In 1945, Paul Pappas was one of the US Marines who entered Nagasaki shortly after the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city. Paul made the comments below to a gathering at Bellvale Bruderhof in Chester, New York, after reading the story of George Zabelka, the army chaplain who blessed the bombers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    At this time of year I always think about what we did over there. In the summer of 1945 I was stationed on Saipan, one island north of Tinian Island, where the planes carrying the A-bombs took off, and I was among the first troops to land in Nagasaki after the war. And still today the story is repeated that the atomic bombs were dropped in order to save lives – American lives that would have been lost if we’d have had to invade Japan.

    The unit I was with was scheduled to be in that invasion, if it had ever taken place. But it turns out the Japanese were seeking peace long before August 6, 1945, and our government knew it.

    When German planes started to bomb England in 1939 and 1940, Winston Churchill said it was a crime against humanity, and it was. But we went on to commit the same crimes! In war there is no limit; you’ll do anything. And the longer a war goes on, the worse it gets. The so-called victor is generally the one who proves to be the most destructive, who kills the most people.

    Some time ago I heard George Webber, a local veteran of the Vietnam War, speak about his experiences. He had been with the Navy, and he said, “I spent three years of my life killing people.”

    As a former Marine, I have to say the same. It’s completely irrelevant who it was who pulled the trigger, who it was who dropped the bomb. We all did it. That was what we were there for. We were there to kill and destroy.

    Nagasaki was the center of Catholicism in Japan. It had a big cathedral, and if I’m not mistaken, it had the biggest Christian population of any city in the country. And yet there we were – Catholics killing Catholics, and Protestants killing Protestants.

    After the war, one of the things I grappled with was the question of allegiance. Where, as a Christian, should your allegiance be? As soldiers, our allegiance was to the nation state, not to our brothers and sisters, nor to Jesus.

    This worship of the nation state is one of the worst idolatries of our day. In fact, I think it’s probably the worst. But people can’t see it. Like George Zabelka, the chaplain of the A-bomb pilots, said, they are brainwashed.

    I wish with all my heart that this were a time of repentance for our country – a time when we could recognize what we did. But we don’t want to face the horror of it. We’re too “good.” And so I can only foresee judgment coming. I don’t think anything will change without it. We should all be aware where we’re going to stand, what we’re going to represent.

    Jesus said, “He who tries to save his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will save it.” That’s what it always comes down to: Are you going to save your own skin, or are you going to stand up for the truth?

    At some point in our lives, we’ll each have to face this question. Of course, we’re all tempted to save our skins. It’s human nature. But the truth has to become more important to us than our own lives.

    This is not just about Hiroshima or Nagasaki. If you think of all our soldiers over in Iraq, Afghanistan, and wherever else they are – how many have been taken in by a lie? Each of us who has seen the truth must live it; we must try to show the world that this endless cycle of violence and killing is not necessary; that people can live together in peace and harmony.

    That’s why this time of year – the time of the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – is important. And I hope that people everywhere pause to consider it.

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