When Bureaucracy And Courage Conflict–War Bonds and Vindication

After the tragic death of Ed Dyess and the public service the word of the story of Dyess and the other escapees was becoming a well-known secret.  Two of the other men were working with Life to have their story told.  All of the men thought it vital to the War effort that the American public know the truth and exactly what kind of enemy they were facing in the Japs.  More and more people were becoming involved in the dispute about allowing their story to be told.  The Administration was still asking for delays.

The Chicago Tribune was running out of patience.  They had been sitting on this story now for months and had been cooperating with the government in agreeing to delays.  The Trib was threatened repeatedly about releasing the story without government approval.  The Trib then returned the threat by letting it be known to the Feds and the FDR administration that they would have a member of Congress read the entire story into the Congressional record!  They wouldn’t get the prestige of releasing the story but it would be in the public domain.   Dyess’s father was particularly irate at the actions of the government in repressing the story of his son.   A deadline was set for January of ’44, then extended again for another week.  The government issued its own press release regarding the treatment of the captured GIs in the Pacific.  The British government did the same thing at the same time regarding its men captured mostly at Singapore.  So odd that the government like always wanted the public to believe they were on top of all this and that it was their idea to make it known.  The story broke and the floodgates were opened.

The public was consumed with the story and wanted to know everything about the escapees and their stories.  The public was also outraged as they learned the details of the Jap treatment of our men.    The politicians reacted with strong language from Truman to Mayor La Guardia of New York.  There had been concerns that the people would lose enthusiasm to finish the war in the Pacific when the battle was won in Europe and there was some legitimacy to that concern at the time.  But the barrage of stories about the men and the treatment and brutality did rejuvenate the country and people to a new sense of outrage and desire for vengeance and revenge.   Even after the war was over 23% of the American public thought we should have dropped even more atomic bombs on Japan than we did.

What is distressing is that the release of the story and the ultimate government approval happen to coincide with the Fourth War Loan Drive. That started in February of ’44.   Virtually all the men who had returned to the US were called upon to attend and be part of the war bond drive.  They gave speeches all over the US.  The crowds were large and enthusiastic.  It was just the boost the government needed at the time to energize the people to give more for the war effort.  The cynical might well believe that the release of the news was delayed at least in part to tie in with the war bond effort.  It is not a bad assumption.   Earlier there had been a delay because a Swedish ship was carrying Red Cross supplies for our men to the Philipines and some used the excuse that to release the info then would jeopardize that relief effort.  How little they knew or understood the enemy.   When the story did break the Jap response was not mellow.  First they claimed it was all propoganda.  Then they quickly took the tack that the Allies didn’t teach their men how to fight to the finish.   They said that the way the Brits and Americans surrendered on Corregidor and Singapore was proof that their backs had a pretty wide streak of yellow. 

It is an old story that bureaucrats and pencil pushers far, far from even the smell of gunpowder and danger make these policy decisions about what it best for the man that is actually dodging the bullets.  They thought they knew what was in the best interest of our fighting men and those prisoners of the Japs even though they went home every night to the comfort of their homes in DC.  For months they wouldn’t listen to the men who had been there, seen those atrocities and suffered the brutality.   FDR at his press conference after the story was released said that his “first impulse” was to make the story known to the public.   That was an outright lie.  His first impulse was to suppress it and he and his minions did for months.

It is ironic that at the same time as the release the new battleship Missouri was commissioned and Harry Truman launched it with champagne.   He wanted the ship to avenge the “barbarians who wantonly slaughtered the heroes of Bataan.”  Of course it did and was in Tokyo Bay in September of ’45 for the official surrender of Japan and Truman then was President.

Let’s see–GM has taken 3.5 billion of taxpayer money to buy a subprime lender for car loans.  Hmm.  Is it hard to predict that since this is a Government, Inc. enterprise that a bit down the road we will seen lots of sales of GM cars to people who can’t afford them but the sales numbers will look good for a while.  Then will come the defaults by all those folks who didn’t really qualify for a loan in the first place except by government decree and the merry go round will take another spin–at the expense of the taxpayer and the government growing ever larger.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com


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