Editorial: ‘These dead shall not have died in vain’ (4-22-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (April 22, 1943)

Editorial: ‘These dead shall not have died in vain’

Every American shares the “feeling of deepest horror” with which President Roosevelt announced the barbarous execution of American fliers who fell into Japanese hands after the raid on Tokyo.

Words are inadequate at such a time. Once again – perhaps more vividly and violently than after Pearl Harbor – we have been shocked into appreciation of the utter depravity and bestiality of the Japanese.

Only deeds – hard, angry and relentless – can answer this latest outrage.

Whatever we have failed to do must now be done.

Whatever there has been on complacency and grumbling and greed and hoarding and profiteering and striking and loafing and wrangling must end.

130 million Americans own an obligation of blood to unite as we have never united before, to sacrifice as we have never sacrificed, to work as we have never worked, that these heroic dead shall be avenged and that “the shameless militarism of Japan” shall be blotted from the Earth.

If we buy the bonds and raise the food and make the arms and ammunition, millions of gallant Americans and their allies will do their job. But they can’t do it without US. And WE haven’t been doing enough.

Let us close ranks, roll up our sleeves and wipe out these monsters.

Let us resolve, in Lincoln’s words, that “these dead shall not have died in vain.”


These are not the people who will shed tears when we bomb Japan. They had it coming. It’s easy for someone from my time to talk about war crimes. It’s not my children being executed.

As I get older I think they always died in vain as we never get better. But every generation pays a price to understand what is valuable in life.