Today is Memorial Day and I choose to take a moment to remember those who fought in World War II. Of course, my father immediately comes to mind. He fought on the European front, that part of the war with which we are all familiar. But, have you ever heard of the Bataan Death March? It took place on the the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines in April of 1942 after the Americans surrendered to the Japanese. It is those brave souls who endured that march that I would like to pause and remember today, in particular a young man named Lloyd Greever. The character Tommie in my novel “My Darling Dorothy,” is based on this young man. It was his letters that inspired me to write the novel. His letters were simple, full of grammatical errors and misspelled words, but they spoke of his hopes and dreams for a future with his “Darling Dorothy.” They exemplify the millions of letters sent home during that war and all wars.
I had never heard of the Bataan Death March until I began my research for the novel. I’m a little embarrassed about that. It seems wrong to forget or worse not even to have taken the time to know about the atrocities that war creates. Forgetting or not knowing is what, in my estimation, allows wars to occur over and over again. Perhaps if we all took a moment to learn and remember that war is hell and should be avoided at all costs, the world could evolve into a better place.
The attached photo is a picture of American soldiers as they surrendered to the Japanese at the beginning of the march. Thousands of Filipino soldiers and hundred of American soldiers died on the tortuous march before they reached their destination at Camp O’Donnell prison camp. The sixty mile march took place under the stifling heat of the tropical sun with little to no food or water. The POWs were severely abused to the point that the Allied Military Commission judged it to be a Japanese war crime. For more details go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bataan_Death_March.
I extend my deepest gratitude to all the young men, including my father, Wilmer Smith, and Lloyd Greever, who fought in World War II, and to all the young men and women who have fought in all the wars our country has deemed necessary. I also look forward to a time when gratitude is no longer needed, because war is a thing of the past.