Monday, October 7, 2013

It's a Small World, After All

Oh man, I knew it had been awhile since I posted . . . but snow? Sheesh; here it is October, and that scene is not too far off. It's also annoying as hell when people state the obvious, "It's been a long time since I blogged," so I won't.

Suffice to say, it's been a crazy busy wonderful adventure-filled year - and it's not over yet!

I did that walk mentioned in the prior post. My snow/sand training proved invaluable in the desert of White Sands, NM. I'm not going to say it was easy; it's never easy walking 26.2 miles, but I did it with a smile on my face (mostly because of the iced coffee I carried along with my water). How can anyone be outside (or inside for that matter) for 8 hours without coffee?

I started the march with a survivor, Ben Skardon, and Ben's Brigade, a group that walks with Ben as far as he can go. At 95, he made 8 miles. He remembers my grandfather and his shows in Cabanatuan. Every bit of new information I get brings Zero more alive for me. And, makes his story more amazing.

As I walked, mostly in solitude, I thought about the soldiers who were forced to do the Death March. I listened to feet shuffling over gravel and sand and the murmur of other marchers. I don't know if my grandfather and Ben were allowed to talk . . . I should ask.

A number of the soldiers making the trek were packing 40+ pound rucks, some were running the entire marathon, others walking. Still others, very young, and clearly unaware of the "wear your shoes at least 100 miles before attempting a marathon," had fallen by the wayside, leaving bloody socks and band-aids. It occurred to me, that had this been the "real" march, they would have been bayoneted or beheaded.

At one point, deep into the march and the desert - maybe mile 18 - I saw the huge bent plants; they looked like women reaching out to help the soldiers. And that's when I felt it. I felt the men, ghosts all of them, walking next to me, in front of me, and beside me.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Walking the Walk

So what got me to a 20-mile walk through snow and sand on the Chicago lakefront? Clearly it wasn't the weather (see "snow" above). It wasn't the company; I was walking alone. Not too many folks were duplicating my 17 degree journey.

Just why the hell was I freezing my ass off and rubbing blisters?

This is where the phrase, "It's a long story" always comes up. And in my case it's true. This story started 71 years ago on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines. Thousands of prisoners, many of the U.S. soldiers, of the Japanese were about to embark on one of the most heinous events in WWII - The Bataan Death March. And this has to do with me in 2013 on a frigid Chicago day?

My grandfather was one of the U.S. soldiers; he had no idea he was about to be forced to walk almost 80 miles.

The War Goes On

The title of this post is more metaphorical than real to my life. Although there do seem to be conflicts on a daily basis that permeate our country. Most don't involve guns or drones, but words, which unfortunately can be more harmful.

I've recently engaged in an activity that indirectly parallels my project with my grandfather's tenure in the Philippines. During my research I stumbled on a site where the editor asked for volunteers to transcribe affidavits presented against Japanese war crimes. I contacted the editor, not even knowing if it was still an active site; it is. He has sent me three different sets of legal proceedings to transcribe from aging copies to computer.

What I am finding are missing pieces to my grandfather's war experience. I have an affidavit from him describing went happened during his internment; however, this new information is specific to incidents and therefore some how more immediate.