Saturday, August 9, 2014

American Officer Gets Street Named After Him...in Nagasaki

I've been studying and writing about the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on this date in 1945 for over forty years now (and have even spent a week there) and thought I knew a lot but this is a new one for me.  U.S. Army Lt. Col. Victor Delnore, son of Lebanese immigrants, got a street named after him today in Nagasaki, with his daughter there to take part.  Why?  Well, it seems he was in charge of the U.S. occupation there starting about a year after the bombing and was known for his kindness and good deeds.

He also was more liberal than his colleagues and superiors in advocating that survivors of the bombing get to tell their stories in print. (His full bio here.)  He okayed and spoke at the first annual public memorial in 1948--held every year since, including today, with U.S. envoy Caroline Kennedy in attendance.   And he was an opponent of nuclear weapons back then and spoke out until the end of his life.  Even before then, as a tank commander in Europe, he was known for not firing on defenseless villages and for not throwing Germans in prison camps if they didn't deserve it.  From that bio: "These acts grew out of the fact that Delnore himself was an immigrant, and he loved and respected the ideals of freedom and democracy in the United States. He hated to see Americans deny these same rights to others. Delnore always sought to treat people with respect and dignity. It was a philosophy that would serve him well in both wartime Europe and Occupied Japan."

There's a book that collects his World War II letters.  See my full piece on the tragedy of Nagasaki here.

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