Sunday, April 24, 2005

Purple Heart

When I was growing up,

World War II was not that long ago.

When I was five,

I watched Dwight Eisenhower through a little port hole,

in a big blonde cabinet with streamlined knobs.

Hiroshima was as far back then

as the last Clinton victory is now.

My brother and I used to brag to our friends about our Dad.

He was a War hero.

He was a navy pilot that flew a 582 c Dive Bomber.

That was the closest thing the US had to a kamakazi pilot.

He personally killed thousands with one torpedo.

As the story went, he dropped it right into the smoke stack

and into the boiler room of a Jap battleship.

The ship blew up according to the tale.

I have a picture of a very young man,

standing on the deck of a aircraft carrier,

receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross from Captain Sullivan.

Somehow, he doesn't look very happy.

In his dairy, he says,

"just learned that I'm going to get the Flying Cross,

lucky man,

I guess."

This documentary by Roel van Broekhoven was originally inspired by a photo series that the New York-based Nina Berman made of wounded Iraq veterans.

She also wrote the book 'Purple Hearts, Back from Iraq', in which soldiers tell their stories.

Broekhoven crossed the United States to visit the people portrayed in Berman's photos. In detail, they recount what happened on the day they got injured; how they arrived back home, blind or legless; how they have to try to forget the war now, in small towns around Alabama and Pittsburgh, or in Washington and L.A.

Officially recognised as “heroes,” a Purple Heart on the uniform in the closet, most of these soldiers long to go back to an army that has no use for them anymore.

The first one minute, fifty seconds are in Dutch, the remainder is in English.

Watch it in Real Player by right clicking on the screen.

These stories are of men who received the Purple Heart

because they were physically wounded in battle.

And their stories are telling.

A few year before my father passed away,

I asked him why he never spoke about the Japanese Battleship,

And why he never ever spoke about the DFC or the Navy Flying Cross

that he received for his heroism in the face of enemy fire.

"I just remember all those men I killed

And then they gave me those medals for doing it"

He just didn't have anything else to say about it.

Always, the wounds of War run deep.

And sometimes, the purple heart is a purple heart.

And the victor is a victim.

For in truth, War knows no victor.

And Peace knows no war.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

the documentary is really good.

11:21 PM  
Blogger oZ said...

Yesterday, after this post, I ran into a person I had not seen in years. While we were eating breakfast, he suddenly began to tell my friend at the table about Jack, my father. He said, that Jack was very understated, yet quite a War Hero. I was somewhat taken back given the story I had just related earlier in the morning through this post.

So here's to you Dad.

You were on our minds, and your courage is always in my heart.

7:43 AM  

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