Director of the Reagan Ranch Andrew Coffin points out a valuable lesson in moral relativism can be learned simply by juxtaposing excerpts of President Obama’s address at Hiroshima with President Reagan’s Radio Address to the Nation on the 40th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War in the Pacific.
“It is not the fact of war that sets Hiroshima apart. Artifacts tell us that violent conflict appeared with the very first man. Our early ancestors having learned to make blades from flint and spears from wood used these tools not just for hunting but against their own kind. On every continent, the history of civilization is filled with war, whether driven by scarcity of grain or hunger for gold, compelled by nationalist fervor or religious zeal. Empires have risen and fallen. Peoples have been subjugated and liberated. And at each juncture, innocents have suffered, a countless toll, their names forgotten by time.
The world war that reached its brutal end in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was fought among the wealthiest and most powerful of nations. Their civilizations had given the world great cities and magnificent art. Their thinkers had advanced ideas of justice and harmony and truth. And yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes, an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints.
Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill.
Nations arise telling a story that binds people together in sacrifice and cooperation, allowing for remarkable feats. But those same stories have so often been used to oppress and dehumanize those who are different.”
“My fellow Americans:
In a few days, we’ll be commemorating V – J Day, the 40th anniversary of the end of the war in the Pacific, which brought to a close the most destructive and widespread conflagration in the history of mankind. Over 3 million American airmen, soldiers, sailors, and marines served in the Pacific and Asian theaters between 1941 – 1945. They endured some of the most savage combat of the war, from the frozen Aleutian Islands in the north to the jungles of Guadalcanal and the volcanic sands of Iwo Jima.
Our fighting forces came back from the defeat at Pearl Harbor and slugged their way across the Pacific, island by island. General Douglas MacArthur wrote of the American fighting man in the Pacific: “He plods and groans, sweats and toils. He growls and curses. And at the end, he dies, unknown, uncomplaining, with faith in his heart, and on his lips, a prayer for victory.” Well, the victory was won, and our freedom and way of life were preserved because of the courage and honor of those who put their lives on the line four decades ago.
Those brave Americans who fought in the Pacific four decades ago were fighting for a better world. They believed in America and often they gave the last full measure of devotion. One such man was Marine Lieutenant David Tucker Brown from Alexandria, Virginia. While in the Pacific, he wrote home: “I am more than ever convinced that this is Thomas Jefferson’s war, the war of the common man against tyranny and pride. It is really a war for democracy and not for power or materialism.” Well, Lieutenant Brown was later killed in action in Okinawa, one of so many brave and courageous young Americans who made the supreme sacrifice.
I think if those brave men were with us today they’d be proud of what has been accomplished. At war’s end, with victory in hand, we looked forward, not back. We lived up to our ideals, the ideals of heroes like Lieutenant David Tucker Brown. And we worked with our former enemies to build a new and better world, a world of freedom and opportunity. That’s the America we’re all so proud of.
Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.”