- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 18, 2001

Nobles: The heroes of VJ Day. On Aug. 15, 1945, the nation celebrated victory over the Empire of Japan with parades, salutes and, most famously, a big kiss between a sailor and his sweetheart in the middle of Times Square.

Rarely has such a kiss been so-well earned. Since the Day of Infamy (Dec. 7, 1941), American soldiers, sailors and airmen had battled an implacable foe back across the Pacific. They endured the grim jungles of Guadalcanal and the shocking attacks of the Kamikazes. They won a miracle at Midway and enjoyed a turkey shoot in the Marianas. They dared the typhoon of steel on Okinawa and raised an everlasting reminder of uncommon valor on Iwo Jima.

So many of them didn't return home to enjoy their triumph the awakened sailors of the battleship Arizona, the sailors lost in Ironbottom Sound, and the submariners who sunk silently to their fate. The 77th Division lost Ernie Pyle on Ie Shima, and the Navy lost the five Sullivan brothers aboard the Juneau.

Many of them were preparing for what would certainly have been the United States' most costly invasion when Col. Paul Tibbets opened the age of atomic warfare with the bomb-bay doors of the Enola Gay.

The world has gone through explosive changes since then, but their courage and the sacrifices, their heroism and patriotism, should never be forgotten.

Knave: Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

On Tuesday, citizens and friends of Japan cringed as Mr. Koizumi entered the Shinto Yasukuni shrine, a symbol of Japanese militarism and a resting place for the memories of millions of Japanese who fell during the war and for the remains of 14 Japanese class-A war criminals.

While Japan's soldiers and citizens certainly suffered greatly throughout World War II, it should never be forgotten that their actions, and those of their leaders, were the cause of it. Japan attacked Manchuria in 1931, invaded China in 1937 and bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. Nor will Japan's cruelties throughout that period be forgotten by the "comfort women" of Korea, or the survivors of the rape of Nanking or the marchers of Bataan.

Japan and its leaders have changed dramatically since then, and no one accuses Mr. Koizumi of sharing the sentiments of the criminals that he honored. However, nations are built largely on the lessons that their leaders have taken to heart and on the memories that they choose to honor.

By visiting the Yasukuni shrine, Mr. Koizumi has set a poor example, even though the actions of all those memorialized there should never be forgotten.

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