CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The anniversary of the first use of an atomic weapon is August 6 and there are some hoary old papers preserved in the archives at the Truman Presidential Library about the wartime Democratic president's dismissive response to civic leaders in Hiroshima, Japan. They made the mistake of complaining in 1958 about his decision to drop an atomic bomb on their city.
Hiroshima was flattened on Aug. 6, 1945, and Truman -- never one to mince his words -- wrote the Japanese they deserved exactly what they got:
"The need for such a fateful decision, of course, never would have arisen, had we not been shot in the back by Japan at Pearl Harbor in December, 1941. And in spite of that shot in the back, this country of ours, the United States of America, has been willing to help in every way the restoration of Japan as a great and prosperous nation."
That was Truman on March 12, 1958. He never apologized, never looked back.
His typewritten statement released on the day of the bombing in 1945 is in the archives, too. There is not a single mamby-pamby sentence in the document. Instead, it expresses the vengeance of a nation at war against an enemy it was determined to annihilate. Truman said the bomb was built under pressure and without failure, and vowed to use it again and again until the Japanese capitulated.
"We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan's power to make war."
That was President Harry Truman giving them hell on Aug. 6, 1945. He knew war was hell. And he meant what he said: "The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East."