Memory As History

PrintPrintEmailEmail

Japan had surrendered, and Tojo had attempted suicide, only to bungle it. When he came to, he recognized Eichelberger, who had commanded the U.S. I Corps in the Pacific from 1942 to 1944 and then led the 8th Army in the invasion of the Philippines. In Daniel Jenkins’s words, Tojo “began to mutter something in Japanese. An interpreter explained to Eichelberger that Tojo was apologizing for the inconvenience he had caused him. The general looked down at him with a rather icy smile and said, ‘You little son of a bitch—are you talking about tonight or the last four years?’” For Major Jenkins, that comment marked the end of a long, long war.

History, after all, is not simply what happened. It is also a memory of how it was.