Duncan writes of the Korean War. I am reading now, “WAR TRASH
” by Ha Jin, which I recommend highly. It details, in fiction, the forgotten experiences of the Chinese soldiers who fought the Americans, were captured by them, and then went through hells of ambiguiety and struggle in the POW
camps as factions formed that defected to Taiwan and the “Free World,” and others, who wanted to repatriate to Communist China.
It brought back to me the stories of my childhood, the fathers of friends and the friends of my father, who were of that generation and went through this. How, in the waning days of Nationalist China in 1949, Nationalist units would be surrounded by the Communists and asked to surrender wholesale, as intact organizations rather than just as individual soldiers. How they did this, and how they were rewarded with a quick order to the front in Korea against the Americans, as they were not fully trusted by the Communists. How they then fought bravely and often successfully, as Duncan recounts, but were shot to pieces by US firepower and suffered enormous casualties. I remember playing chess often in the summer of 1982 or 1983 with a boy whose father had been one of those who was taken prisoner, then chose Taiwan and then the US, leaving his family and home behind.
that was also about the time that i discovered duncan’s photographs, from “This Is War,” at the Museum of Modern Art, those images of retreating Marines on the frozen Chosin resevoir.
back to the more immediate topic, it is appropriate that Jake quotes FDR. I would also like to evoke LBJ, who, wrong-headed and tragic as his leadership into the Vietnam War may have been, was man enough to come before the nation, and announce that he would not seek re-election in 1968, about as naked an admission of responsibility, of guilt, as was possible. He also spoke, later, of how the anti-war protestors in Lafayette Park kept him up at night, haunted, with their drums and their chants of “LBJ, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” Well, today, Lafayette Park is essentially a blast-walled, barricaded, grey zone of emptiness controlled by the security forces as part of the White House perimeter. I am extremely doubtful if George W. Bush ever notices any protestors, who are not allowed to get anywhere close enough to be heard.
what is wrong with this Administration is not the war or why we are fighting, for which one might make a legitimate argument one way or the other, but the fear of honesty, the lack of accountability, and the loss of the ancient values of honor and fair play.
25 Jul 2005 22:07
| New York,