A Parenting Meditation...
Fashion your life as a garland of beautiful deeds.
When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.
Quotes by Siddhārtha Gautama
|Gaiman's Endless, Including Despair|
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa is a World War II memoir by Eugene Sledge, a United States Marine. Since its first publication in 1981, With the Old Breed has been recognized as one of the best first-hand accounts of combat in the Pacific during World War II. The memoir is based on notes Sledge kept tucked away in a pocket-sized Bible he carried with him during battles. (Wikipedia)
Sledge's memoir gives a firsthand and unapologetically honest perspective on the Pacific Theater of World War II. His memoir is a front-line account of infantry combat in the Pacific War. It brings the reader into the island hopping, the jungle heat and rain, the filth and malaise, the fear of potential "banzai attacks", and the hopelessness and loss of humanity that so uniquely characterized the campaign in the Pacific. Sledge wrote starkly of the brutality displayed by Japanese (and to a much lesser extent, American) soldiers during the battles, and of the hatred that both sides harbored for each other. In Sledge's words, "This was a brutish, primitive hatred, as characteristic of the horror of war in the Pacific as the palm trees and the islands."Eugene Sledge "Sledgehammer" is depicted as a quiet, thoughtful, faithful, moral, kind, young man eager to be involved in the war. He reads his bible, doesn't smoke, offers no criticism of those around him and strives hard to learn his difficult job as a mortar man. As the miniseries progresses with depictions of island hopping, brutal fighting, and hellish conditions, we see our marines pushed to the limits of barbaric behavior and near insanity. Sledge is not spared. We watch a sweet innocent young man try to retain his humanity despite baby step after baby step toward the shell-shocked, haunted, soldier-type that surrounded him. It is quite depressing to watch. It is hard to see these men, clinging to humanity, as heroes; they seem more like victims; the combat they are engaged in feels purposeless, despite what I know as a history teacher of the import of their sacrifice and work. Their sacrifice overwhelms me; their suffering devastates me...
Sledge describes one instance in which he and a comrade came across the mutilated bodies of three Marines, butchered and with severed genitals stuffed into their mouths. He also describes the behavior of some Marines towards dead Japanese, including the removal of gold teeth from Japanese corpses (and, in one case, a severely wounded but still living Japanese soldier), as well as other macabre trophy-taking. He details the process and mechanisms that slowly strip away a soldier's humanity and compassion, making the thought process accessible to those who have never served in combat.
Sledge describes in detail the sheer physical struggle of living in a combat zone and the debilitating effects of constant fear, fatigue, and filth. "Fear and filth went hand-in-hand," he wrote. "It has always puzzled me that this important factor in our daily lives has received so little attention from historians and is often omitted from otherwise excellent personal memoirs by infantrymen." Marines had trouble staying dry, finding time to eat their rations, practicing basic field sanitation (it was impossible to dig latrines or catholes in the coral rock on Peleliu), and simply moving around on the pulverized coral of Peleliu and in the mud of Okinawa.