Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Legend of Bataan & Corregidor

Bataan and Corregidor were not only defeats for the United States during World War Two but record setting surrenders as well. The battle for the Philippines was not particularly well documented by the media as were later battles around the globe. The harsh environment of the terrain, the swiftness with which the battle proceeded, the known brutality of the Japanese Army, and the fact that most all reporters were required to orbit around MacArthur, all conspired to dilute the number of reporters who wished to brave the coming tide of devastation.

There are times when the defeated rise above the stain of their loss. When an underdog in battle inflicts severe losses on the enemy and are deficient in arms, food, materiel and medical supplies, it can only inspire in generations to come a feeling of awe. The suffering these men and women endured mixed with the incredible heroics of their efforts combined to thwart the time table of Japanese domination in the Pacific and ultimately changed and shortened the course of the war.

Our troops although out numbering the enemy were not battle hardened and were out gunned and under supplied. The Filipino and American soldiers were compelled to find within themselves the resolve to fight artillery, bullets and bombs with guts, determination and stubbornness. Using the terrain to their advantage and the countless heroics of countless men, again and again they fought the Japanese to a standstill. One can only guess at the number of unseen and untold acts of heroism that occurred in remote areas of jungle trails and river crossings. We will never know the pain and sacrifice of so very many who perished and are known only to God.

In the course of time, many books have been written and stories related by those involved in this epic battle. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of verified and documented reports of valor beyond description. There are those of us who are possessed with an irresistible desire to investigate that never ceases to vex the unknown with its how and why. Whatever answers that we may uncover, to err is not to fail, if the error, once recognized, leads us to a closer approximation of the truth. In the effort to attain elusive knowledge, one can be lead too quickly to adopt the simple solutions of an impulsive imagination. Yet, time after time, I came across the gleams in the dark storm of war. I found men amid the mist of pride that rose about them; stand resolute as the scaffolding of civilization came crashing down. I saw men who were forced to surrender their bodies, yet who never surrendered their conscience. I found men who died helpless and hopeless but never lost their identity to their cause. In many, God helped them escape their miseries through the blessed aid of death.

They transmitted to us through their efforts the most precious treasure of freedom. They have conferred to us the anticipation of happiness and have given us the comfort of their example. They produced within us those noble emotions which produce the finest moments of our existence; our love of freedom, our pride in the men who preserve that freedom and our earnest resolve to see that all people of earth enjoy the same benefits of freedom. A soldier whose heart is in the right place and finds plenty of opportunity to love, to defend and to help, will be astonished to discover that the highest human joy is to give of yourself.

We are all that remains of life past and gone. As of today, sixty three years have passed since the end of their nightmare. Much has been said and little has been done to reward their character and their sacrifices for we who live today. It is my belief that enough time has passed to graft the deeds of these men to the Tree of Legend. They ARE Legend and their feats are Legendary and they are deserving of more than we can possible give.

Robert Hudson 8/3/08

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