Monday, May 31, 2010


United States FlagImage by Rennett Stowe via Flickr

As posted on Sunday, May 30, MINDSIEVE has chosen to blog about choices and changes this week.  One of the choices I've made in the last month are books that I've selected to read.  

In the choice I made of selecting James Michener's first published novel, Tales of the South Pacific,  I've been changed by a new awareness of some of the events of WWII; particularly those events outlined in the novel's ocean setting of the Coral Sea and in particular, the Solomon Islands.  Prior to reading this book I had little interest or knowledge that this remote archipelago even existed in the South Pacific Ocean.  (I knew the South Pacific Ocean only as the beach a few blocks away from the town of Pacific Beach in San Diego where I resided upon birth, with my parents - my Dad was a US sailor.)  Certainly I had no geographical curiosity or awareness of how totally isolated, yet in what close proximity the Solomon Islands lie to Australia and New Zealand - nor of what importance they were to fighting the aggression of Japanese forces of the time.

Michener's story awakened a gratitude in me for the events and lives lost of enlisted men of all services and backgrounds.  I found myself weeping with their losses and remembering in a rather abstract way, which I'd never thought about before, the lives of those men in my family who were in uniform at one time or another in WWII - my own father, John David, my uncles Paul, Marion, Earl, my father-in-law Eugene.  Our families were fortunate in that our beloved men were not lost in the Solomons or on any unknown sandy beach or perilous depth of the sea.  They were not stationed in Pearl Harbor on that fateful day.  Equally strange in my reflection of the novelist's time period is the fact that I was in my mother's womb during the time this novel was set, so cradled in my own little "ocean" while men I never would know were dying on some strange beach in order that I would be born into safety in a place where there would be no death from a deadly beach landing.

I could go on, but strangely I believe you get the point of this choice/change post.  Perhaps a contemporary of mine, have you read Michener's work, did you ever view a stage performance of the play/movie - "South Pacific" - inspired by his work?  Did your family members serve in any military capacity - can you just imagine on this Memorial Day how all our lives were set/changed/affected by the choices and changes that persons known or unknown to us of our Armed Services made in those early years of our lives or perhaps in the years before we were born?  I am grateful.  I am changed from remembering their lives in a way I had not experienced before - any thoughts for you?
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  1. My father, who is buried at Arlington, was one of the hand-picked men who made up the group Merrills Marauders. He fought in China, Burma, and India and was one of the few in that unit to come back alive. He rarely spoke to us about his experiences; he buried them deep.

    He tried to rejoin the service at some point and because he had three children he was turned down, until the Korean War, when he was recruited to rejoin. My mother was pregnant with me at the time, and this time it was he who said no. Had he chosen to go back in the service then, I might not have had a father or other siblings (my mother gave birth to nine and seven of us lived to grow up together).

  2. Dear Maureen, Thank you so much for your comments today. They are truly moving and cause for yet another feeling of change in my being. Upon reading your words, I went to Wikipedia immediately and read of Merrills Marauders. Such an amazing account of young men doing what they were "asked" to do, "commanded" to do, "compelled" to do? I've heard again and again from veterans' families that their loved ones never spoke of their war experiences in any depth. The wounds, the memories, the horror and heartache were just too much to recall. It is understandable when one reads just a short description in Wikipedia regarding this brave unit of American men/boys and their determination to carry out their mission. There was also a film sited entitled "Merrill's Marauders" made in 1962. I thought only briefly of renting it in order to have a better handle on MM. I think it unlikely that I would make it through such a've made this day of memory of heroic valor even more important to me. Thank you!


  3. this makes me think of richard rohr's commentary this morning when he speaks of holy tears - tears we cry for those we've never even known. as i read your post and maureen's subsequent comment, i, too have a new understanding and feel the lump in my throat and the dampness in my eyes for those who have gone before me - so that i might live.

    i'm embarrassed to say, before i read this post, i hadn't even considered today's holiday as anymore than a monday off. thank you for offering this much needed and welcomed perspective.

    re: movies, i doubt you've seen "the hurt locker" (winner of this year's academy award for best picture). set in iraq, it details the lives of those who fight for us NOW.

    today - i am grateful. thank you. xoxoox