To the editor:
Friday was the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, followed by the dropping of a more powerful atomic bomb on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, leading to the unconditional surrender of the Japanese empire on Aug. 15.
I celebrate this time in August for another reason; that being the first time in my short life I saw adults around me displaying a degree of happiness I had never before witnessed. Exuberant jubilation would be more descriptive of the moment. What brought on this elation was the sight of three Allied bombers, probably North American Mitchell B-25s, American, Dutch and British, flying very low overhead the Japanese internment camp that had been our home for the past 3 ½ years, most likely some time shortly after Japan;’s capitulation.
My mother picked me up and shouted in Dutch “de oorlog is voorbij! -- the war is over!” I responded by asking what war was! The planes made several passes over our camp, the notorious Camp Halmaheira, in Semarang, Indonesia, at the time part of the Dutch East Indies. The bombers flew so low we could easily see the pilots waving their hands, and dropped leaflets, written in Dutch, English, Malay, and Japanese informing us of Japan’s unconditional surrender. As the planes flew off, the large crowd of Dutch internees broke into singing the Dutch national anthem, “Het Wilhelmus,” something that had been forbidden for almost four years.
At a time of such unusual unrest, and facing an inexplicable pandemic in this great land of ours, I find it reassuring to recall my first glimpse of freedom, in the sight of three bombers. Little did I know at the time, the freedom we were soon to enjoy, was brought about by the brave men and women of The United States of America, my future adopted home.
Peter G. Eschauzier