This past week I had the extraordinary privilege of speaking to WWII POWs surrendered on Bataan and Corregidor and held prisoner until the end of the war.
Only a few of the men remain alive now, some seventy years after the war.
The POWs, their wives, children, friends and relatives gather each year to commemorate the sacrifice and service these men gave for our country. They endured starvation and torture on the Bataan Death March, in prison camp, hell ships and Japanese slave labor camps.
Mr. Coons, an infantry machine gunner in the army, was one of six Muscogee Creek members who fought in the Battle of Bataan and were forced on the Bataan Death march. Three of the men died in captivity. For more of Mr. Coon's story, click here.
The group of POWs that began meeting in the late 1940's has now morphed in to the Descendants Group--American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society. One of the group's goals is to keep alive the story of these men's courage and resilience in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked the Islands shortly after bombing Pearl Harbor. They especially want to get the word out to young people. History books may touch briefly upon the subject, but stories from the survivors have more impact.
That was Shayna Ross a student at Yamhill-Carlton High School in Oregon. I spoke with her at a Veteran's Day celebration where she heard first hand the experiences of American defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.
A new documentary on the topic was screened at the ADBC convention, Never the Same: A Prisoner of War Experience. Three-time Emmy Award-winning director Jan Thompson interviewed a number of POW's for the documentary. She also uses poems, songs and art work created by prisoners in the camps to help depict the brutality they experienced. You can view the trailer here.
And by the way, if you don't have your copy of PURE GRIT yet, Women's eNews published an excerpt this week. Read it here...
Up next week--> a new book featuring American women war correspondents.
I'm fascinated to discover little-known history, stories of people and events that provide a new perspective on why and how things happened, new voices that haven't been heard, insight into how the past brought us here today, and how it might guide us to a better future.
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