My country,’ tis of thee,

(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Ya know how sometimes you’re just driving in your car, thinking, and you see something out of the corner of your eye, you’re supposed to be paying attention, ya know, you’re driving, but it’s a Stop Sign and you glance over to the right and you see a “hobo” (okay homeless man, but the kids call ’em hobo’s) takin’ a swig off his jug of MadDog and its noon and his shopping cart and his dog are just waiting there patiently beside him, and you’re driving so you can’t really look and you don’t really wanna look but you do and it just… All… Hits you … all at once. And all you really want to do is just curl up into the fetal position and cry.

But you’re driving. There’s no cars coming so you proceed through the little intersection in your little corner of your little section of town in your big city and you just. keep. going.

But somehow you find yourself inexplicably…. singing:

My country,’ tis of thee,

sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing;

land where my fathers died,

land of the pilgrims’ pride,

from every mountainside let freedom ring!

No? That never happens to you? Well. That’s what happened to me today.

What have we come to? How could we have allowed this to happen?

My country. My people. Who are we?

And who have we become?

The past week or so I’ve been busy distracting myself from the depressing shenanigans of the day in politics and GOS pie and DD owner/admin transitions and what not…. With further exploring my family history and genealogies.  Some online and much with my sis T in emails and phone calls, and a little bit with my other two sisters, although they are too busy to be real into it at he moment, they have in the past. We all have notes and memories and we will eventually consolidate all of it into some kind of cohesive bio-history.

But it’s the journey that is so fascinating to me now, the way it brings history to life. It’s a mildly daunting task but amazingly enjoyable and also addictive I must say. A welcome distraction, or so I thought.

In the beginning, I re-discovered my “True Patriot” Revolutionary roots through my father’s mother’s line, and wrote about that a bit here with a tale of my 4 x great GFA, the Minute Man in the War of Independence, 1776. It is a story that I’ve known and heard all my life, it’s kind of there in the background, no big deal but there. And I knew it, I always knew it.

Sweet land of liberty. Of thee I sing.

Both my parents were classic “Greatest Generation”… Born in the mid/late 19-tens, they came of age during the Great Depression and then shipped off to war in early adulthood, to the Pacific Theater in my parents case. Mom and Dad actually met in Manila, Phillipines, in 1945, they came home safe, married and had my 3 older sisters and me. Some of their friends and family were not so lucky.

I mentioned briefly in that previous piece that I had learned only recently some info about the death of Dad’s cousin Dwight. I also just today learned some new details of his best friend Ed. His childhood friend who he grew up with in their little town in Ohio, who travelled together with Dad on some wild adventure to visit Mexico the summer after they finished high school, sometime I dunno, around 1938 or 1940 I guess. Before they enlisted and shipped out. I remember hearing stories my Dad would tell of their travel  adventures and how they had the time of their life that summer. I do not remember Dad ever talking about Ed’s death.

My Dad survived and came home.  Ed didn’t, he died.  He was one of  thousands of casualties in the March to Bata’an.

Wiki: “We are not barbarians”.

At dawn on 9 April, and against the orders of Generals Douglas MacArthur and Jonathan Wainwright[citation needed], Major General Edward P. King, Jr., commanding Luzon Force, Bataan, Philippine Islands, surrendered more than 75,000 (67,000 Filipinos, 1,000 Chinese Filipinos, and 11,796 Americans) starving and disease-ridden men. He inquired of Colonel Motoo Nakayama, the Japanese colonel to whom he tendered his pistol in lieu of his lost sword, whether the Americans and Filipinos would be well treated. The Japanese aide-de-camp replied: “We are not barbarians.” The majority of the prisoners of war were immediately robbed of their keepsakes and belongings [8] and subsequently forced to endure a 61 mi (98 km) march in deep dust, over vehicle-broken macadam roads, and crammed into rail cars to captivity at Camp O’Donnell. Thousands died en route from disease, starvation, dehydration, heat prostration, untreated wounds, and wanton execution.

On the Bataan Death March, approximately 54,000 of the 75,000 prisoners reached their destination. The death toll of the march is difficult to assess as thousands of captives were able to escape from their guards. All told, approximately 5,000-10,000 Filipino and 600-650 American prisoners of war died before they could reach Camp O’Donnell.[9]

and more… {apologies for the length but I’d never heard of it til last week}

After the first day of marching, without food or water, men began to drop out of column. Japanese guards would rush up, shouting commands in Japanese to get back in the group. When that approach failed, shots rang, out killing those who would not or could not rise. Many of those failing to obey the order to march were beheaded by sword wielding-Japanese guards, usually officers and non-coms.

Such actions on the part of the Japanese brought many captives to their feet and they continued the march for awhile longer. As each day and night passed without water, the marchers began to break from their group to run to anything that resembled water. Most often they would hurl themselves into a water puddle alongside of the road and lap up, similar to a cat lapping milk from a saucer, the so-called water. The puddles were used by the carabao to coat themselves with mud as a protection against the huge flies constantly about them. Upon rising from the puddle, the water would assume a “clear” state. Needless to say, the water was not potable and drinking of it soon brought on cramps, diarrhea, and eventually dysentery caused by the numerous flies found in the puddle. Such acts continued for each day of the March, lasting from five to ten days, depending upon where one joined the March, and continued until the marchers reached the town of San Fernando, Pampamga, P.I., a distance for most marchers of over 100 kilometers.

Upon reaching San Fernando, the prisoners were forced into 1918 model railroad boxcars (40X8) used in France during World War I. With over 100 men in each car, the Japanese then closed the doors on the prisoners. There was no room to sit down or fall down. Men died in the sweltering cars. Upon arriving in Capas, Tarlac, almost four hours later, the men detrained for Camp O’Donnell, another ten kilometer walk.

Official figures estimate that between 44,000 and 50,000 of the Filipinos arrived at O’Donnell after completing the March. Between 12,000 and 18,000 of their number are unaccounted for. What happened to them is unknown, but a safe guess is that between 5,000 to 10,000 of them lost their lives on the Death March. The death toll for both Filipinos and Americans, however, did not cease upon reaching O’Donnell. Instead, during the first forty days of that camp’s existence, more that 1,500 Americans were to die. At least 25,000 Filipinos died by July 1942 in the same camp. All of the deaths were the direct result of malnutrition on Bataan, disease, and the atrocities committed by the Japanese on the March.

Shortly after the last of these prisoners entered O’Donnell (April 24,1942), Corregidor fell on May 6. Battered by constant shell fire from Bataan and aerial bombardment, with their supplies running out, Wainwright, successor to MacArthur as commanding officer of the United States forces in the Philippines, decided his situation was hopeless and surrendered Corregidor and the troops in the southern part of the Philippines. With the establishing of a beach head on Corregidor by the Japanese, he avoided a “bloodbath” that would have most certainly occurred had the Japanese fought their way from the beach to Malinta Tunnel, where most of the defenders of the island had withdrawn.

After two weeks of the famous Japanese “sun treatment” for prisoners, in the sun-baked areas of Corregidor, these troops were taken across Manila Bay to Manila and then by train to Prison camp Cabanatuan, Cabanatuan, P.I. The men were in that camp when the Bataan survivors arrived from Camp O’Donnell in June 1942. The extremely high death rate in that camp prompted the Japanese to make such a move, and thereby allowed the American medical personnel to treat the Filipino prisoners remaining behind until their release beginning in July 1942. The condition of the prisoners arriving in Cabanatuan was such as to shock their fellow Americans from Corregidor. In a short period of time, however, they, too, would feel the full effects of Japanese captivity.

It was not, however, until June 1942 that the men of Bataan and Corregidor began to share a common experience. During the first nine months of Cabanatuan’s existence, when the vast majority of the camp’s 3,000 American deaths occurred, most of the deaths were men of Bataan, still suffering from the effects of Bataan, the Death March, and Camp O’Donnell. That the men of Corregidor were more fortuitous than their fellow Americans in avoiding starvation, pestilence, and atrocities up to this point is beyond question. source

His name is there in black and white on the roster.

Lenio, Edward J.  35021102  Died  Camp O’Donnell 30 May 42  dysentery  Ohio

I just want to curl up in a ball and cry.

2. My native country, thee,

land of the noble free, thy name I love;

I love thy rocks and rills,

thy woods and templed hills;

my heart with rapture thrills, like that above.

And … then there’s Cousin Dwight.  Dad’s  only cousin on the same lineage side as our ’76 Patriot ancestor. He died tragically, horribly, … beheaded in Japan, in a circumstance that resulted in convictions & sentencing for War Crimes of his murderers. On page 11 of this pdf that my sister found {html error with the link, sorry, LL} War Crimes. Did you hear that? Convicted. War Crimes.

{His plane went down and…} he bailed out and was hiding near the Arakawa Canal. When civil defense guards found him, he shot them and killed one, seriously wounded another. Two days later, the police found him hiding in a box car at Nishiarai railway station and captured him, and then turned him over to Ueno Kempei Tai. Maj. Akira HORIE, Commander of Ueno Kempei Tai brought him to Tokyo Kempei Tai HQ, where he was told by Col. Keijiro OTANI, the Provost Marshal, that “An American soldier who has committed murder need not be treated as a POW. He should be strictly dealt with.” Then Maj. HORIE ordered his subordinate M/Sgt. Etsuji NOGUCHI to execute 2/Lt. {DAD’S COUSIN}, and M/Sgt. NOGUCHI beheaded him on the south riverbank of New Senju Bridge.

After the war, at the War Crimes Trials in Yokohama, M/Sgt. NOGUCHI was sentenced to 12 years confinement, Col. OTANI to 10 years. Maj. HORIE committed suicide shortly after the war.

I just want to curl up in a ball and weep.

3. Let music swell the breeze,

and ring from all the trees sweet freedom’s song;

let mortal tongues awake;

let all that breathe partake;

let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.

There’s none that I know of in my own personal family who served or died in Europe, but the crimes of Hitler and the Nazi’s are surely extremely well known and I wonder how many bloggie friends of mine have family ancestrals with the telltale numeric tattoo on their forearm.  Soldiers and fighters and patriots all throughout Germany, and France, and England, and Poland, and more and more and more. How many tens of thousands … and the vocal cry of “Never again!” became part of our popular culture, reverberating throughout homes, synagogues, and churches but to what avail?

It did happen again. Perhaps not in quite the same way or magnitude, but again it did … with genocide in Cambodia. Again in the Sudan. Again in xyz … and on and on.

I just want to curl up in a ball and scream.

4. Our fathers’ God, to thee,

author of liberty, to thee we sing;

long may our land be bright

with freedom’s holy light;

protect us by thy might, great God, our King.

And I won’t even begin to try to mention all the suffering and deaths of the many many other wars official or otherwise over time through history…. my country. For my country. By my country.

And for what. For WHAT? Liberty? Equality? Democracy? THE People?

My father died in 1999 and my mother in 2003. I thank God they both passed before the horrors of George Bush / Dick Cheney’s crimes of AbuGraib and more came to light in 2004. Horrors torture degradation and unspeakable crimes, perpetuated this time by our leaders, our commanders, our politicians, in my name, in the names of my forbears in a despicable bastardization of everything they believed in and died for.

I just want to curl up in a ball and wail.

How could we let this happen?

I am sick in the pit of my stomach at all this. Sick to my very bones, in my soul.

Dismayed to see the blatant levels of oppression, sheer flat out robbery, massive annihilation of We The People on the new battle fronts of jobs and unions and banks and homes and jobs and worse, on the hearts and minds of the American people by the talking heads on our TV’s and in our hallowed halls of Congress and the White House and even the most supreme the courts of the land.

I just want to curl up in a ball and moan.

What do I tell my daughter?

We are supposed to be The Good Guys.

I just can’t watch any more. I haven’t watched hardly any mainstream “news” in months. I hardly even read the poli-blogs anymore. It’s all just the same regurgitation of the same ol’ lies over and over and over. Lies. Greed, Fear, Hate … again and again, of a different cloak, a different manner, but the same damn demon underneath it all, time and time again.

What is left for any of us to do but to Witness? Testify. Stand firm … and refuse. Refuse to buy or believe the myth put forth. Say “No”. Say to “Them”:  You cannot have me, my heart, my mind, my soul.

Resist.

And keep singing. Keep on singing.

6 comments

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  1. I still want a pony.

    • TMC on January 18, 2011 at 9:58 am

    to make nice ot give up. It’s why I did this. You have the forum. I have your back. Love you, LL.

  2. thanks for the bump, ek, nice to see you again.

  3. Hard to add to your words, LL, so music will do.

    Elton John’s Mona Lisas & Mad Haters. One Of Elton’s most under appreciated songs.

    I admit to having a crush on Nancy, she shines in this one.

    Concert just a few months after 9/11, they dedicate it to New York City..


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