V-J Day: 64 years later

Today is V-J Day.

In the shadow of the war in Europe and evil of Nazism, of D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, we as a nation often overlook the tremendous sacrifice and heroism of the Pacific Theater. The battles of Midway, Coral Sea, Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, and Guadalcanal are names that we all should know and remember.

All of us from Wisconsin should know the history of the Janesville 99. These brave National Guardsmen fought in the Philippines at the start of the war and endured the infamous Bataan Death March, Death Ships to mainland Japan and slavery through to the end of the war. Of the 99 men who left Rock County in the fall of 1941, only 35 would return. Today, we should pause and remember them.

Today's New York Times ran a story on one of the veterans of the Pacific Theater and his relentless effort to make certain that we as a nation never forget the sacrifice of his comrades. I take issue with some of the way the Times presents the story, but it is a story we all must hear. I think Al Perdeck - a survivor of a kamikaze attack on the USS Bunker Hill - is angry in part because we don't remember his war.

We know the story of Easy Company, of Normandy, of Patton's tanks. They have been immortalized on the silver screen. Yes, we know Pearl Harbor and Iwo Jima, but nothing compared to what we have learned of the war in Europe.

There were two fronts to WWII. In both our nation faced brutal and evil enemies. Yes, today the Japanese our among our closest allies, but 64 years ago they were our fiercest enemy. One need only look at the horrors of the POW camps and Bataan and the war in China.

So today, let us remember the heroes of the Pacific. Let us remember the men who fought and sacrificed for us against an enemy fixated on dominating all of east Asia and the Pacific. We owe them as much as any veteran of D-Day and we can start by remembering and saying, simply, Thank you and God Bless you.