For the last week or so, I have been watching with much interest on PBS Ken Burns’s documentary titled the “War”. Perhaps one of his best that can be added to his other master piece the “Civil War”.
Unlike what one would expect from a documentary with this title, the “War” is more of a human journey of people rather than a cold review of historical facts that are deprived of any sense of human drama.
Ken Burns succeeded in giving his documentary on the war that very human touch rarely found in similar documentaries. He succeeded in having living witnesses talks of the war past and present. While the entire documentary is mesmerizing and one is forced to sit and watch there were several events of the war that I thought were so moving and perhaps it brought out what is best in humanity and also what is worst.
Unlike Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam War and George Bush’s Iraq War where the two presidents, one a Democrat and the other a Republican both have something in common. Johnson and Bush both lied to the nation and lied to the Congress to get authorization to go to wars concocted by their national security advisors that cost the nations tens of thousands of dead, hundreds of thousands of wounded not to mentions hundreds of billions of dollars wasted because our Congress and as usual failed to exercise its rights as an equal branch of government and failed to protect our national interest and the people interest. The Korean War was another make believe.
World War II was for sure the right war and for the right reasons. The US did not initiate war but has to respond to attacks on our soil as is the case with Pearl Harbor and we went to war against Nazi Germany because Hitler threatened with his killing machine and his National Socialism ideology the very fabric of societies in Europe.
Four things in the documentary that moved me the most. The first was the story of our Black citizens who were called to war and to fight for freedom and democracy overseas when they did not have that for themselves in their own country.
The second was the very moving story of Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii and his war experience in Italy where he kept fighting while losing his arm. His courage war efforts earned him some forty years later with the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation highest honor. While our Black troops were segregated due to their color, their donated blood, no doubt the same color red was not segregated and contributed to saving the life of Senator Inouye.
The third was of course the tragic and so un-American experience of relocation and concentration camps for Japanese Americans and how our government, even our Supreme Court was able to justify and order all Japanese American to relocations camps. That episode is for sure a dark side of American history; we hope will never happen again. Fear and racism like now where the only reason to intern our Japanese American citizens. With the present atmosphere in this country may be it will be the turn of Muslims and Arabs to be moved to relocation and concentration camps.
The fourth was the horrific scenes of Nazi concentration camps where over 6 million Jews perished simply because they were Jews. I have seen these pictures before, but one could not help but wonder how this can happen, and it did happen. Of course the German and the Austrian people denied they knew of these concentration camps and denied the gas ovens that turned human flesh to ashes. How can these people deny this mass murder when it was taking place in so many places? Hitler was able to kill and murder, in addition to the 6 million Jews, 2 million Poles, over 4 million Russians and killed several hundred thousands of Gypsies, homosexuals and mentally and physically retarded people. Hitler did not do it alone. He has an entire army of people to do it.
World War II where Americans young and old, rich and poor, men and women all joined together to liberate Europe and Asia. This is perhaps the proudest moments in American history and our commitments to liberty and democracies around the world. Too bad, Lyndon Johnson and George Bush did not learn any thing from this war and waged their own ideological war for nothing more than their own selfish agenda and their own selfish and pity ego. When our presidents call on us to fight a war, we want these wars to be our wars not their own individual wars where we as citizens have to pay the price. World War II no doubt was the people war and not the president’s war. Ken Burns’s story of the War continues.