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Culture wars Richard Falknor on 21 Sep 2011 10:42 am

Valuing Our History: The Last Bataan Survivor Dies

Revivifying our own culture in the face of Cultural Marxism (or multi-culturalism) is a key conservative goal.

And this means re-instituting the study of our history — including our military history.

It means celebrating (among more than a few “specialists”) those Americans who stood fast against our enemies — both in battle, and if captured.

The saga of Albert Brown, the oldest survivor of the Bataan Death March, who died last month aged 105 is a gripping one.

The London Telegraph, with its world-class military obituary section, tells some of his story:

“Two weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when the Japanese overran the Philippines, American and Filipino forces retreated into the mountainous jungles of the Bataan peninsula. Eventually, in April 1942, some 78,000 of them surrendered. Unprepared for the scale of their victory, the Japanese decided forcibly to march the PoWs to camps via a railhead 75 miles away at San Fernando.”

Many Americans are unaware of the brutality to prisoners of war and to civilians practiced by the Imperial Japanese forces in the Second World War, and too many Americans are unaware of the conflict in the Philippines itself, where American soldiers felt abandoned by their government during the Japanese invasion. (By way of background, from 1935 to 1946, the Philippines were a commonwealth of the United States.)

Correspondent Frank Hewlitt wrote in 1942 —

“We’re the Battling Bastards of Bataan,
No mama, no papa, no Uncle Sam,
No aunts, no uncles, no cousins, no nieces,
No pills, no planes, no artillery pieces,
And nobody gives a damn!”

The Daily Telegraph obituary spells out in more detail Captain Brown’s ordeal —

“A week later, at the end of the murderous 75-mile trek in temperatures of 90ºF, Brown and another 12,000 American prisoners were put on trains for the three-hour journey to a PoW enclosure at Camp O’Donnell, a former US Air Force facility. At least 600 Americans and 6,000 Filipinos had perished along the way, and another 1,000 Americans and 16,000 Filipinos died over the following six weeks.

“For more than half a century, Brown remained silent about his ordeal. But not only had he survived, he had also secretly chronicled his experiences, using a pencil stub to scribble down details on a tiny pad of paper he hid in the lining of his canvas bag. ‘[There] was an officer with a samurai sword,’ he noted. ‘They had [prisoners] kneel down and just whacked the head off — that happened a lot.’

“Brown’s account described the torment suffered every mile by US troops as they passed freshly dug wells from which they were forbidden to drink. Sympathetic Filipinos who tried to throw bread, rice, cakes or fruit to the marchers were often killed on the spot. The roadside was littered with dead bodies, some crushed beneath trucks. The stench was overpowering as more and more men suffering from dysentery fouled the ground. Those who reached the limits of their endurance were shot as they fell. “

In 2007, Victor Davis Hanson explained (City Journal) “Why Study War? Military history teaches us about honor, sacrifice, and the inevitability of conflict.”  —

“Try explaining to a college student that Tet was an American military victory. You’ll provoke not a counterargument—let alone an assent—but a blank stare: Who or what was Tet? Doing interviews about the recent hit movie 300, I encountered similar bewilderment from listeners and hosts. Not only did most of them not know who the 300 were or what Thermopylae was; they seemed clueless about the Persian Wars altogether.”

We must keep this in mind: There are conservative goals well beyond (and unlikely to be addressed through) the outcome of the elections of November 6, 2012.

Crucial among these goals is the teaching of our history in all its dimensions  – political, religious, economic, and military.  Our citizens — of all ages —  must get a firm grasp of the many achievements and struggles that made our land a beacon to the world.  Otherwise America will indeed be permanently “transformed,”  and grossly diminished.

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