74th Anniversary of the Bataan Death March

74th Anniversary of the Bataan Death March

Saturday, April 9, was the 74th anniversary of a WWII incident called the Bataan Death March. In New Mexico on Saturday, about 100 people gathered to remember a part of history that was “too painful to remember, too tragic to not.” There are lessons in it, if we will hear them.

What is little known to most is that in December, 1941, Japan attacked the Philippines as well as Pearl Harbor. Only instead of just an attack, it also brought a full scale invasion of the Philippine Island of Luzon. By April 9, the American and Philippine forces had surrendered to the Japanese…which began a bloody, brutal episode of WWII history.

“War is an insult to humanity.” Atilano “Al” David, survivor

According to the Santa Fe Sun, there are only about 20 survivors of the Death March still alive, the youngest of which is about 90. There are many stories of heroic efforts by the Americans who survived that march. You can read about them in the links provided.

The Death March

American and Filipino forces of approximately 76,000+ were confined to a small area on the Bataan Peninsula. On December 8, 1941, Japanese aircraft struck the Philippine Island of Luzon, destroying most of the U.S. Aircraft on the island. But the attack was followed by a full scale invasion. With supplies dwindling, and support gone, the Americans and Filipinos fought as hard as they could. The Navy had its own battles with the declaration of war after Pearl Harbor. By April 9, Bataan’s military commanders surrendered to the Japanese.

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The Surrender of American forces at Bataan just before the Death March- photo from Fairchild AFB

Eyewitness to History recounted,

The Japanese immediately began to march some 76,000 prisoners (12,000 Americans, the remainder Filipinos) northward into captivity along a route of death. When three American officers escaped a year later, the world learned of the unspeakable atrocities suffered along the 60-mile journey that became known as the Bataan Death March.

Japanese butchery, disease, exposure to the blazing sun, lack of food, and lack of water took the lives of approximately 5,200 Americans along the way. Many prisoners were bayoneted, shot, beheaded or just left to die on the side of the road. “A Japanese soldier took my canteen, gave the water to a horse, and threw the canteen away,” reported one escapee. “The stronger were not permitted to help the weaker. We then would hear shots behind us.” The Japanese forced the prisoners to sit for hours in the hot sun without water. “Many of us went crazy and several died.”

The ordeal lasted five days for some and up to twelve days for others. Although the Japanese were unprepared for the large number of prisoners in their care, the root of the brutality lay in the Japanese attitude that a soldier should die before surrender. A warrior’s surrender meant the forfeiture of all rights to treatment as a human being.

That particular website recounts the story of Lt Col William Dyess, who described the first murder during the march of an Air Force Captain who had some yen in his pocket.  The private who searched him moved aside, and his commander drew a sword and beheaded the captain. Lt.Col. Dyess described the grisly scene…memories that have haunted his thoughts since that bloody moment.

beheading

This American attempted to escape- his punishment was death – photo via voicesofeducation

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Prisoners of the Bataan death march- photo via Britannica

“A warrior’s surrender meant the forfeiture of all rights to treatment as a human being”

One of the issues that our politically correct society fails to recognize is the attitude of the enemy. The average American refuses to believe that ISIS-radical Islam won’t listen to logical arguments. As a State Department spokesperson once said – they just need “jobs,” and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg thinks we can defeat them with “love.”

It is that corny, out of touch with reality thought process that creates serious vulnerabilities to all Americans. “If we just give them what they want they’ll leave us alone” is the liberal cry. But it is a false and foolish idea. Make no mistake- as America learned at the beginning of WWII, surrender to a brutal enemy cannot stop them. It took years of savage fighting to defeat the enemies of the world. When will America wake up?