Memorial Day: Reading “War, Literature and the Arts”

This past weekend, the History Channel showed a number of war documentaries.   Yesterday, self finally got to watch Clint Eastwood’s Letters From Iwo Jima.  She had refused to see it when it was showing in theaters, out of some vague, unfocused sense of loyalty to the husband, whose grandfather, a brigadier general in the Philippine Army, was taken from his family by the Japanese and never returned.

But, darn if she didn’t find herself so absolutely moved by the film.  In fact, she told the husband, she was more affected by that movie than she was by Saving Private Ryan.

Self is on the War, Literature & the Arts e-mail list, and this evening there was a message in her “in” box about a new post.  So she eagerly went to read it, and it was absolutely fascinating.  James Moad II, who edits the blog, used to teach in the Air Force Academy.  Self thinks he is very brave.  He writes, “Of course, war is not moral, and maybe that’s the tragedy of it all for those who have to fight.”

He recounts a time when he was still teaching in the Air Force Academy, and he got a call from a concerned parent whose daughter was experiencing nightmares after reading one of the books Moad had assigned in his War Literature course.  The book was called Tiger Force and dealt with American atrocities in Vietnam.  Self has read quite extensively about American atrocities in Vietnam, and can certainly see why a young person might suffer nightmares after readings like that, but Moad reminds his readers that the student was enrolled in a Military Academy, after all.

Moad (in passsing) mentions “the anger of Odysseus upon his return home in The Odyssey” (which reminds self very much of the anger of returning Vietnam War veterans, whose sacrifices went largely un-recognized), and about Plato’s The Cave (“about how focusing on moral certainty can keep us from seeing reality”) and it’s just a really great essay, which reminds self that she took son and Niece G on a tour of Corregidor when they were about seven or eight years old.  That was a great tour.  The guide seemed to speak with such passion about the events of a long-ago time.  The tour ends at a memorial, on a bluff overlooking the sea.  And what self remembers most clearly were that there were a few very old American veterans on the tour.  At that memorial, they all broke off to stand singly, and stared out at the sea, and some were visibly weeping.

And self thinks that every returning Filipino must be required to take this tour.  But why leave out the rest?  Let’s just say, every Filipino who is in high school or college in the Philippines, must be required by their schools to take the Corregidor tour.  If Israel can require its citizens to spend time on a kibbutz (or the Israeli army), certainly the Philippine government can require its people to honor the sacrifices made on Corregidor.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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