Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Hail! hail! to the greatness of "The Pacific"

I cannot find enough words of praise when writing about HBO's brilliant miniseries, "The Pacific," one of the bets thing EVER shown on television following ... HBO's previous WWII effort, "Band of Brothers." It's harrowing, moving, disturbing, frightening, heroic and ... almost all of it true to the details.
As a son of a Jewish World War II vet, I grew up knowing several things:

1) The war sucked (as do ALL wars), but we were completely justified in what we did, including Hiroshima/Nagasaki because it SAVED the lives of perhaps a million Americans and Japanese (we learned on Iwo Jima that an invasion of the Japanese mainland would prove to be bloodier than anyone would imagine);
2) What the Japanese did to others were as horrific as some of the things Germany inflicted upon Europe (if you don't believe it, ask older Chinese people; they STILL seeth at those memories).
3) WWII was a war of liberation for Africa/Europe and the U.S. symbolize the liberators; establishing a permanent link of fairly goodwill to that continent (despite what some USA administrations believed about "old Europe").
4) War IS hell - all of it, wherever it is fought, regardless of the combatants. It's drivenby hatred far too often rather than any speck of necessity.
5) The Holocaust was real and perhaps the single most heinous planned campaign in all of mankind's existence. Each week, as I went to temple, I would see old men and women in their seats, often with their concentration camp tattoos on the arms visible. They could tell you that Hell existed on earth because they went through it ... and survived.
"The Pacific" is outstanding television and tells the complete story of the men who fought island to island. The non-combat storylines are necessary to show that these were not robots, but human beings. Last Sunday's episode might have been some of the saddest narrative seen in recent years. If the ending didn't get to you, you have no soul (no spoiler alert!).
And, here's the real thing: It's based on total truth. Sledge's first book, "Helmet for My Pillow" is the basis for his storyline and R.V. Burgin's new book (also characterized in the show) is also employed. Burgin lives in Lancaster, Texas, where I worked for five years as that community newspaper's editor (however, never knew him or met him - he kept a low profile until plans wre unveiled to do this miniseries). If you Wikipedia John Basilone, you'll find how much accuracy has been retained in his narrative.
The world would have been totally different - we probably would not be here - had the outcome not been what it was in 1945. It was NOT a foregone conclusion; it had to be earned.
And those few survivors today should be honored through tributes like "The Pacific" and "Band of Brothers" before it.
People, you'll NOT regret seeing it when you get the chance.

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