The world hasn't learned from the Death March. Wars continue to rage. And wars seem to draw unimaginable inhumanity to the captive and the weak. Pledge to end this dark force. Remember the Death March and the even more brutal wars going on.
Join the Voices Against War and the Philippine War Veterans and Ex-Servicemen of BC, Canada in a one-minute silent prayer at 12:00 pm everyday from now on to the next memorial of the Death March for those who suffered through it and later in prison. Offer a prayer and sign this pledge to end all wars, to end all specters of war.
Sign up for peace.
The landscape of memories on WWII in the Philippines might be crowded by now with all kinds of retelling. But, each time anything about it is said or discussed, a swarm of memories start buzzing. It is truly amazing how the telling seems endless
No matter how long ago that war is often referred to, its reality remains as vivid as if it were the day before. Apparently, war never dies with its heroes or its traitors both known and unknown. Time actually does not heal the wounds inflicted on families who are innocent of a war, or in the case of Filipinos, the only war they ever experienced and it was not even theirs. Time it seems merely suspended the grieving as families coped with survival.
As Bataan Day or the date is again in the past in the march of days, this pledge to end all wars, to end this dark force should be cast in our hearts. Let us build a memorial to memories with a prayer and remembering. How and when it would turn out and what shape it would take depends on what value the world gives to peace and the world is you.
We will hold on to and nurture this pledge to peace by keeping our memories alive. What better flame indeed.
On April 9, 1942 Bataan peninsula south of Manila, supposedly a stronghold where Gen. Douglas McArthur was to move troops according to hsi War Plan Orange proved inadequately armed and manned by malnourished and malaria-ravaged contingent. Then Maj. Edward King, commander of the U.S. Army Air Force in Bataan surrendered to the Japanese forces wanting to save his men from further suffering. He did not count on the unimaginable brutality that the Japanese were to inflict on 78,000 Filipino and American Prisoners of Wars.
Fazed by the size of the POWs, the Japanese command could only act inhumanely by making their captives walk the roughly 65 miles from Bataan to the prison camp in Capas, Tarlac north of Manila. The specter of war known as the Death March which lasted for six days began on April 10. Heat in the Philippines hits 98 degrees Fahrenheit in April.
Picture this as taken from a fact sheet of the National Museum of the Air Force: POWs who could not continue or keep up with the pace were executed. Even stopping to relieve his own self could bring death; many continued walking while relieving themselves. They were beaten with rifle butts, shot or bayoneted without reason. Some got hit in the head with rifle butts by Japanese soldiers on passing trucks; others dragged behind trucks with a rope around their neck. Most got the "sun treatment" or sitting under the heat for hours.
They received almost no water or food. Most received only a few cups of rice, and little or no water. Filipinos by the road sides, who tried to give food and water, could be beaten or killed along with the prisoner. Water found in canteens were poured out onto the road or taken by a Japanese guard. If a POW broke ranks to drink stagnant, muddy water at the side of the road, he would be bayoneted or shot. Groups of POWs were often deliberately made to stop by the many artesian wells along the way but were not allowed to drink it. Some were killed just because they asked for water.
At the end the 65 miles in the capital town of San Fernando, Pampanga, surviving POWs grouped as large as 115 were forced into steel oven-like box cars designed to hold only 30-40 men. More of them died from the suffocating heat. Those who reached Camp ODonnell, the prison camp in Capas, Tarlac trudged seven more miles. The POWs marched roughly 65 miles over the course of about six days until they reached San Fernando. The dead totaled about 11,000 when released but more followed though unaccounted for; a few escaped, still fewer made it home. Those who made it home were unrecognizable, living skeleton was how they appeared.
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