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MICHAEL J. LACIVITA 'I was there' storytellers are vanishing



Published: Sat, June 4, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



We must not forget the life changing events of World War II. As a part-time writer and speaker, I want to do my part in keeping the memories of that era alive. Soon there won't be any of us to tell the "I was there" stories. It will become a Civil War type era, with young historians giving us secondhand accounts instead of firsthand ones.

On May 3, I spoke to three sophomore classes of Mrs. Cathy Anderson at Boardman High School. It was about my experiences aboard the U.S.S. LST 582, a chapter in my recently published book "RagMan, RagMan."

I received over 60 interested student comments about the presentations. Thoughts such as, "I am very luck to have heard from an actual person who was there" and "Both of my grandfathers fought in the war, but both are deceased."

Many of the students said that they would now talk to their grandpas about their World War II experiences, such as this reflection, "You have made me appreciate my country with your stories -- now I will talk with my grandpa more about War World II."

I believe grandchildren should record their grandparents' war experiences, since each story is unique.

Atom bomb

One interested student was the first to enter a class and the last to leave. He posed this interesting question: "Do you believe our country should have dropped the atom bomb?" I replied, "I would not be here talking to you if we had not dropped it, along with many thousands and thousands of other grandpas."

The justification for that action is the following firsthand account. I went to Japan on Sept. 12, 1945, just 10 days after V-day, the ending of World War II. I saw a 20-mile stretch from Yokohama to Tokyo completely wiped out by our incendiary bombs dropped by B-29s. That action killed many thousands of Japanese and it did not bring them to their knees. There was no alternative, so President Harry S. Truman took the correct decisive action.

I am proud to have two of my published articles on this subject accepted and placed in the Harry S. Truman Library Collection in Independence, Mo. The old adage still holds true, "All's fair in love and war."

X Michael J. Lacivita is a Youngstown retiree, writer and photographer and an inductee into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.




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