Is anyone watching the HBO miniseries, The Pacific? If yes, I would like to know everyone’s opinion. I have the same old problem I have with every other HBO special involving young men in uniform. I can’t tell them apart. They all look alike. Other than that mild problem, what a terrific series it really is.

I am simply in awe of how this series has captured the fear of battle. To those of us who have been spared battle other than in books and movies, we really don’t know what its like. Girls are at a real serious disadvantage, especially us vintage girls. You just don’t know. The producters, directors and actors were somehow able to capture the essence of fear unlike any other war film I have seen.

I am very much against sanitized war movies. Those ones I saw growing up were too clean. Everyone was a hero and if they got killed in battle, it was generally all in one piece. War wasn’t dirty and filthy enough. This series sure is. One minute someone has legs and the next minute they don’t. Tonight I had to watch piecemeal. I couldn’t watch for long periods of time–too intense.

Which brings me to my point: How much we owe those 400,000 young men in the prime of their lives who gave the ultimate sacrifice. When I see a series like one, or Band of Brothers, or any of the shows that have come out in recent years I am just awe-struck by the bravery and the sacrifice of all of those who fought. They went to unknown lands because they were told to go. They didn’t sign up so they could further their education or get on-the-job training. They signed up because their country was invaded. They went because they were told to.

The Civil War brings out similar feelings in me. They went because they had to. I think Americans should have to watch films like The Pacific or Band of Brothers before we ever go to any war. I think we need to see if our cause is important enough. I think we need to see if we have the stomach for it. Regardless of whether its 1861 or 2010, its someone’s son (and now daughter), husband, father, sibling in harm’s way. Do we have the stomach for it? Those boys on that distant island in the Pacific tonight sure didn’t have the luxury of the pause button like I do when the action gets a little too intense. And we owe them such a debt of gratitude.

10 Thoughts to “The Pacific: An Update”

  1. Censored bybvbl

    Another factor which made people evaluate whether an event was “war worthy” was the draft. Just about every man (brother, son, husband) was subjected to it. It affected every family – even those who managed to find excuses to keep their sons out of it. That’s one element that makes the volunteers of today shoulder a disproportionate share/sacrifice.

    I agree that movies have gotten more realistic and that’s a good thing if it means we more carefully evaluate what we’re doing.

  2. I certainly agree with you there. Do we have the stomach for it? If the answer is no, then maybe we shouldn’t do it. I am not sure we had the stomach for Iraq. We should’t have.

  3. Lucky Duck

    My father in law, an immigrant, quit high school at age 15 and lied about his age. He signed up and was in The Battle of the Eastern Solomons, The Battle of Cape Esperance and later in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. His four immigrant brothers fought in the European theater of war. He saw things that nobody should see before he was even old enough to legally drive a car.

    They all came home and raised families. My father in law obtained his citizenship a few years after he returned from the war. The framed Citizenship paperwork hung above his dining room table until he passed away.

  4. What a story! Amazing. Why did he want to go to war at 15?

    Are you watching the series? I think it is incredibly well done. I am impressed with how well they have captured what I imagine fear in battle to be. Those kids, and they were kids, were barely trained and most of them under 25 years old—Too young to leave their guts on some lone beach somewhere we have never heard of.

    I get emotional over this topic because they are dropping like flies. And soon the Greatest Generation, to whom we all owe so much, will fade away. The very youngest of them must be 84 or 85 now.

  5. Lucky Duck

    He wanted to go because he was the youngest of five brothers and they went, leaving him behind. That was, as he decribed it, “unacceptable” to him. The first four were in the army and they told him to go into the navy. So he skipped school one day, signed up for the Navy. He fooled his parents as they didn’t speak or read English and told them he was allowed to join. He returned from the pacific and went back to high school. In his small town he went to both high school graduations, the class he was supposed to be with and the one he actually finished with. He was an amazing guy.

    Yes, I am watching the series and wish he were alive to see it. He used to tell me stories about kamikaze planes flying into/between ships in Leyte Gulf.

    Amazing how they all returned, went to work, raised children and led otherwise “normal” lives after their experiences. Only two of the brothers, both in their 90’s, are still alive.

  6. Lucky Duck

    Sorry, meant to say he went to both high school reunions, not graduations.

  7. What an amazing story and what an amazing guy. So he got out at like 20? I bet he felt that those he was in class with were just fools, after what he has seen.

    Thanks for sharing that story. Are the 2 brothers watching the series, even though they were more Band of Brothers types?

  8. Lucky Duck

    He got out around age 19 I believe. A lot of young men in his immigrant community signed up. The one brother still lives in that small town and yes, he is watching the series. He also watched “Band of Brothers” when that was out. He has enjoyed them both. The other brother is not watching the series.

  9. I want to start by apologizing for the length of this post, but this has been a catharsis for me and I hope readers will be forgiving.

    Certainly Spielberg and Hanks have captured the essence and consequences of war. War is dirty, bloody, filthy, nasty, frightening, and horrible or any other term(s) you want to use to describe the worst thing you have ever seen or heard of.

    A few days ago I wrote to Katherine Gotthardt, author of “Poems from the Battlefield” and Pinko contributor to MH about her analysis of the “Battle Hymn of the Republc” that:

    If you have never been to war,then it is only reasonable that you would not know why
    we pray for our own victory. It is never the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who glorifies
    war. Because, after all, it is we who must do the dying. Glorifying war is for those whose failures have made war a necessity. They must glorify it and pray for victory in order to convince parents, wives, husbands and children that it is an honorable and glorious thing their loved ones will be engaged in—even if they pay the ultimate price.

    Go to any military or VA hospital and you will see the consequences of war. You will see young men and women with what are euphemistically called “life altering injuries”–missing arms, missing legs, missing eyes, missing minds, missing chucks of flesh, missing, missing, missing.

    And then there are the slabs of white marble or gray granite that stand as mute sentinals in the cemetaries where we bury our war dead. Walk among those silent sentries and you wiill be shocked at the price American families have paid to satisfy the gods of war.
    I have been watching The Pacific and I have watched Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan. But I have done so with great difficulty. I spent more than half of my near 77 years on this planet in military service—39 years to be exact. I have seen, smelled and been stained with the blood of my fellow warriors. Despite the fact that it has been more than 40 years since I left Vietnam, my most lasting memory of my time there is the smell of blood. It is easy to understand why our young men and women suffer lasting psychological damage after 3, 4 or perhaps 5 tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet we Americans are like the mythical Misaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru; we see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil.
    Why do we go to war? As I told Katherine,

    We military people go to war because we have sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. We have sworn to obey the orders of the president and the officers appointed over us. We go and we pray for victory and the destruction of the enemy because we know full well they are praying for the same prayer. We see our friends’ bodies shattered–their blood and flesh staining the ground and all around them. And we pray. We pray the enemy will be vanquished.

    1. Oh George, you have left me with chills running up my spine. No need to apologize. It is I who should be thanking you for sharing such an intimate view of what must be so perfectly horrible.

      I can remember my father telling me his worst memory from WWII and he was not in combat other than for a brief period during the V-bombings, was smelling the burning of burning flesh after he went into Antwerp. My mother thought he was in the Battle of the Bulge so she thought this was pretty minor. I don’t think it was to him. He said he could still close his eyes and it would come back to him. Olfactory senses are supposedly the strongest.

      Thank you again for sharing. I had never been able to feel the fear until The Pacific. I did get horrible vertigo in the beginning of Flags of our Fathers however.
      And in the words of that old folk song….When will we ev—-er learn?

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