Last week, Glenn purchased the microphone of Iva Toguri — aka Tokyo Rose — used during her World War II radio broadcasts. And this morning on radio, Glenn decided to broadcast with the mic, which had not been used in nearly 70 years.
In the aftermath of the war, Toguri was labeled a traitor and went to prison. It was not until Glenn began working his on new book that he realized who she really was and the profound impact her career had on the soldiers stationed in the South Pacific during World War II.
“Tokyo Rose is a woman that is synonymous with the word ‘traitor.’ Tokyo Rose was an American citizen. She was probably the most listened‑to disc jockey in the history of the world,” Glenn explained. “Her name is Iva Toguri. She was born here in the United States. And then she went over to Japan. And then the war happened. And she wanted to come back to the United States but couldn’t.”
Because Toguri spoke fluent English, she was forced to give broadcasts that were transmitted by Radio Tokyo to Allied soldiers stationed in the South Pacific during World War II.
“I think there were five different Tokyo Roses. She was Orphan Ann. And she refused. She said, ‘I’ll play music, but I will not do the demoralizing messages.’ What Tokyo didn’t know is that she was actually going to visit our soldiers who were kept in prison camps and when they found out, they thought she was there doing work [for the Japanese],” Glenn said. “They didn’t trust her, the prisoners didn’t trust her and Tokyo didn’t really trust her either because she was an American citizen. So she was without a country and without friends.”
Over time, however, Toguri was able to convice the Allied soldiers that she was on their side. She brought them medicine and supplies that in many cases saved lives. “She risked her life to save ours,” Glenn said.
“In fact, this didn’t come out until much, much later, Robert White, one of the aerial gunners, said he used to listen to Tokyo Rose. And he would listen to her and she would always start the Zero Hour, that was hers, and she would start and she would say, ‘Hi, boys, this is our old friend, Orphan Annie. I’ve got some swell records just from in the States. You better listen to them while you can because late tonight our flyers are coming over to bomb the 43rd group when you’re all asleep. So listen while you’re still alive,’” Glenn explained. “And the guys in Tokyo couldn’t really understand. And they thought that she was demoralizing. What she was doing was she was telling, ‘Tonight we’re going to go bomb the 43rd group.’ She saved lives!”
A Navy officer, who had come to burn the radio station to the ground, ultimately brought her microphone back to the U.S. When the war was over, investigators from the U.S. government spoke to many of the prisoners of war she had helped through her actions and non-demoralizing broadcasts. The government let her go initially, but once she tried to return to American everything changed. She was tried and put in prison.
“But when she was coming over back to America, her home where she was born, what happened? A radio broadcaster, Walter Winchell, found out about it and thought this was awful that she could even come here,” Glenn explained. “And so he started to gin up the American people and start to spread lies, and the government, because they needed to be popular and do the popular thing, they went over and they started to get people to perjure themselves and lie about her. She went to prison as a traitor to her country. It was a lie.”
Her microphone that Glenn now owns had not been used since the 1940s, but it remains in remarkably good shape.
“We believe this is the first time it’s ever been plugged in because we had to actually open up the plate last night and put new wires in because they had just been cut and so we put new wires in the base of it, but this is all the original — everything is original,” Glenn said.
Glenn felt it was important to not test the microphone ahead of time, for, if it worked, it would be an important moment that should be shared with as many people as possible. So Glenn turned off his state-of-the-art microphone to broadcast with the microphone of Tokyo Rose. Glenn admitted he had given a lot of thought to what he would say if the mic actually did work.
“I thought this morning, if it worked, what should be said. From the microphone used by the woman who identified herself as Orphan Ann, we called her Tokyo Rose,” he explained. “But her name was Iva Toguri. And she told the troops where the bombers were going to come so they could prepare. She hid all of her information. She disguised the words that she was using to hide them from Tokyo, not from the Americans. So here’s what should be told.”
Glenn paused for effect, then began:
America, tell the truth. Tell the truth, even if it means in the end it hurts you. America, don’t believe everything that your country and your government tells you. Because while many times, most times it’s true; in many critical times it’s an out‑and‑out lie. And it’s not an American problem. It is a government problem. It is a human problem. People want power, and they will do anything to keep that power or enhance that power. It’s incumbent upon you if you want to remain free, to do your own homework. And if you don’t, you will lose your freedom. And because of that, innocent people will suffer. Truth and justice is the American way.
If this microphone could speak, it would tell you this: Your country told you lies. Iva Toguri was not a traitor. She was wrongly tried and wrongly imprisoned, and real justice for her is now beyond our grasp. But if this microphone could speak all that it had seen or heard, my guess is it would say, “Listen to the voices of the past. Listen to the voices of the past that now cry out. You are the last bastion of freedom in the world. You are smart enough. You as an individual are capable. But if you don’t do it, no one else will.
Question the things that everyone says. Question the things that are even coming now out of this microphone, just as people questioned it 70 years ago. Find the truth because it depends on you. It’s calling to you. Don’t follow the crowd. Don’t do the easy thing. Do the right thing. Because if you still ‑-‑ if you still want to believe that you should be called an American, you do the right thing because everything else is beneath you.
Glenn concluded, “That is incredible that that microphone can sound that good after all it has been through. History will always point us in the right direction.”
The Tokyo Rose story is one of twelve Glenn selected to tell in his latest book, coming out in a few weeks, called Miracles and Massacres — the true history of America, the true stories that have been lost on who we really are.
“If you want to save the country, and you want to save freedom, you have to start telling the truth about the miracles and the massacres that this country has seen and been involved in and caused,” Glenn said.