Iva Toguri D’Aquino, known better to those familiar with World War II as the woman who was convicted and later pardoned of being “Tokyo Rose,” died Tuesday at the age of 90.

In 1949, she became the seventh person to be convicted of treason in American history. Here’s her mugshot:

Doubts about her possible role as “Tokyo Rose” later surfaced and President Ford pardoned her in 1977.

Ford’s “pardon” stamp sure did stay busy in his short two years, didn’t it?

At any rate, D’Aquino was a U.S. citizen and UCLA grad who was visiting Japan when the war broke out, and got stuck there. She ended up working on “Zero Hour,” a Japanese propaganda radio show that allied prisoners of war were forced to help operate. After that, it gets fuzzy as to exactly what her role was.

From most accounts, “Tokyo Rose” was a name used by American GI’s which was applied to any of well over a dozen women who broadcast on Tokyo radio — a composite of many different people — none of which actually went by the name “Tokyo Rose.” D’Aquino was one of those broadcasters, and she went under the name “Orphan Ann.”

Looking back at D’Aquino’s story, and sideways at the present political and sociological climate, one can see how much we’ve changed as a nation. What the woman once convicted of being “Tokyo Rose” did pales in comparison to what so many U.S. citizens, members of Congress included, do and say every day as far as subverting the United States goes, and yet the latter are often praised as practicing a “higher form of patriotism.”

There are still those who believe that Iva Toguri D’Aquino’s part in Tokyo radio during World War II was deserving of prison for treason, even though she may not have taken part altogether willingly. For now, only one thing’s for sure: Had she been facing similar charges in 2006, at this moment she’d be flanked by ACLU attorneys, Danny Glover and Sean Penn would be protesting on her behalf, Dick Durbin would be demanding hourly Red Cross reports to make sure she was being properly treated, and she’d be making a fortune signing books after her appearance on Oprah.

The real tragedy for D’Aquino was that she was born 50 years too soon.

The United States sure has changed — eh, flyboy?

Coming up on the next edition of “Born 50 years too soon”: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, progressive practitioners and distributors of global nuclear fairness.


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