Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Semper Fidelis

This is my Father-in-law.

Isn't he cute?

I'm not going to hide the fact that I am a total and complete nerd.
Let's just get that out into the open.

Lately I've been reading a whole lot about the Pacific Theater of World War II. It is just so fascinating, so harrowing, so unbelievable, so clutching that I can't seem to leave it alone. I really love history (and I thank you for that, Mr. Beagley). I really do, and I think that passion inside of me stems from the same basic place that made me an actor. I just think people are so fascinating. So fascinating.

I thought I knew a lot about World War II. I've learned in the last year or so; however, that essentially all of my study of the Second World War has been in the European Theater. All of the books I've read, movies I've watched, classes I've attended all center around the fight against Nazi Germany. I knew essentially nothing about the Pacific War. Which is interesting, since both of my Grandfathers and my Father-in-law all served in the 'American War' in the Pacific. And the more I've learned, the more my jaw just drops.

Honestly, at this point, part of me would like to give it a break. Those images get into your head, and the feeling seems to linger for awhile. But I can't. And I don't really want to. It's just too incredible. Yesterday the Double B came home from work just as the battle on Iwo Jima was coming to a conclusion in the book 'Flags of Our Fathers' (which I have read before, but this time seems even more amazing and sweeping). I'd been a good girl and done all my duties, even folding laundry, in between the rather desperate allowance of fifteen minute stints with the book. He came and laid down by me as I gulped through the statistics of Easy Company on Iwo -- over 82% casualties. Did you know that the battle of Iwo Jima was the only news of the war, good or bad, that caused F.D.R. to actually shudder? For the first time, the people around him heard him gasp in horror when he was told the total of dead, injured or missing from the first day of fighting. And the fighting -- gruesome and horrible beyond any description, against an enemy that already knew they were going to die so just wanted to take you with them in the most brutal way possible -- went on for more then thirty days? By the end of the report, I myself was crying. For about the fiftieth time that day. The Double B looked up and said "Maybe you should stop reading for a while." But all I could say in return was "We're at the end of the battle here! I can't leave now!" And I couldn't actually tear myself away.

Iwo Jima is the most decorated battle in history -- did you know that? 27 Medal of Honors were awarded to Marines in just one month. That is staggering.

I feel bad that so many of the battles of the Pacific I had no idea about. I had heard of Guadalcanal, but I could have never recognized that there were enormous battles with the names Tarawa, Guam, Peleliu, or Okinawa -- to name just a few. That's sad to me.

I have asked The Double B a million times how those boys got off the landing craft and onto the island -- how they could have endured it, how they could have made themselves. His answer is always, "they didn't have a choice." But honestly, the terror they must have felt and the courage it must have taken is something I'll never know. And don't want to know. But surely appreciate and honor.

So I have added that topic for the class list I'm planning on taking in the next life. The question goes something like this: "Dear God, how did you possibly support and help and succor all of those men that needed you? But I know you did if they wanted your help. So please enroll me in that class so I can understand. You are awesome! Love, Marie."

Last night we had Family Home Evening with BB's parents and sister and her family, which we do now and then just for fun. Shakin' up the tree like the wild, wild people we are. Grandma gave the lesson on prayer and then asked if any of us had a story in our lives about prayer. And Grandpa raised his hand. I paraphrase what he said:

"When I graduated from high school, I had to go right into the Army, because there was a terrible war going on. There were lots of men who smoked cigarettes and drank lots of alcohol, and every night I would kneel down and ask God to protect me. I went on big ships all around the Pacific and worked in a hospital to help take care of the boys who had been wounded, and I saw many boys who had lost arms or their legs, or had their feet blown off at the ankles. God had to help them. I went on that big ship seven times, and each time I would pray so hard because of the enemy submarines, and lots of boys got killed on those ships. But each time we made it safely and I got back home after two years."

And I thought -- Thanks, Dad.


Paulette said...

Wow, what a post! I don't know much about WWII. I'd like to know more. War is so awful! Prayers is AMAZING! That is all.:) Love you!

Ducksoup said...

you are so smart it's not even funny. can i have your brain? can i be a cool wife like you? can i be a good reader like you? and can i please be as cool of a mom as you are? i'm just glad i know we had world war II - - that's about as in depth as i get about the subject. maybe i could enroll in a history class from you? think about it. love you rie. you are enlightening.

Elise said...

You have inspired me to read something besides dorky chick lit. Thanks. :)