A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Spare a Moment to Remember

Pfc. Joseph Flynn, 5th Eng. Btn, 5th Corps
before the last living memories are gone and the revisionists take over.

I received the following email a few days ago from my dad
Yesterday was the 67th anniversary of D-day on Iwo Jima.
So many men died that day, it was terrible.  And last night,
67 years ago, was the most anxious night of my life; as you can well imagine.

I will think a lot about Iwo throughout the coming Month -- not every moment
of course, but a lot none-the-less.

D-day on Iwo Jima
5th Marines pause for religious services
Today is the anniversary of the flag-raising, made famous in photographic history.  One sometimes reads that the iconic raising was "staged for the cameras" as a publicity stunt.  The hipster generation is so hip and and so knowingly cynical that it cannot imagine anything else.  But in fact, the second flag was raised because the commanding general wanted a flag that could be seen all over the island.  At lunch today, my dad recalled that moment when the flag went up.  He was forward in the 5th Division zone and it was an electric moment, followed an instant later by the horns of all the ships in the task force blaring at once.  

There was still a month to go.  
+ + +

Another moment he recalled at lunch was when he was aboard a troopship heading for Japan.  Along the way, their officer announced that Japan had surrendered.  Uncertain of the news, the Marines went on deck -- and saw the running lights of the vast fleet snap on across the waters of the Pacific.  He remembers thinking I hope all the Jap submarines have gotten the word.  

Me, I've always wondered where that troopship would have gone if Japan had not surrendered just then. 


  1. Thanks for this. My grand-uncle, who is one of my most-loved relatives, was at D-Day in Normandy.

    The comment about the cynicism of the present (my) generation is spot-on. The nihilism of our country has become so great that we have a hard time even imagining people acting so self-sacrificially, for a purpose transcending themselves. I very much doubt we are up for a repeat performance if we're called to such a thing again. It makes me sad how quickly we've thrown away what men like my uncle and your father fought so hard to keep for us.

    I sometimes wonder what my uncle must think as he watches where things are going. I wish we could have kept it long enough that he wouldn't have needed to see our decadence in his lifetime.

    1. John Lukacs wrote in "Letter from Normandy (1995)"

      At best, civilization may survive and exist, in part because of what these young soldiers fought and died for in Normandy fifty years ago. At worst, Churchill and Roosevelt gave us -- especially those of us who were are no longer young but were young then -- fifty years. Fifty years before the rise of a new kind of barbarism, not incarnated by the armed might of Germans or Russians, before the clouds of the New Dark Ages darken the lives of our children and grandchildren. They gave us fifty years. Perhaps that was enough.

  2. "Me, I've always wondered where that troopship would have gone if Japan had not surrendered just then."

    I would think right down the f****ng enemy's throat to choke them. Ahem. Sorry. Got a bit emotional there.


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