In China, a 75-year-old war wound is still bleeding

When I was a boy, I liked to argue with adults about history. I’d ask questions that are impossible to answer, like whether the United States would have become a superpower if the South had won the Civil War, or whether we’d all be speaking a different language if the Allied forces hadn’t defeated Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

I formed my own opinions too, mostly based on facts I learned at school. One of the more heated debates I had was with my grandfather, a Korean War veteran. I told him I thought the U.S. was wrong to drop atomic bombs on Japan during World War II.

He said the bombing was necessary to end the war, and that I didn’t understand how brutal the Japanese soldiers were. But what about all the innocent people in Nagasaki and Hiroshima killed by the bombs, I asked. What did they do to deserve to die?

It was the only way to end the war, he repeated. Continue reading