Archive for Normandy

THE PACIFIC

Posted in Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2010 by Jordan

Last night the ten part mini-series THE PACIFIC concluded on HBO and I must say it is without question one of the best portrayals of the Second World War I have ever seen.  The $200 million mini series was produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg and was in many ways the sequel to the 2001 mini-series Band of Brothers also produced by Hanks and Spielberg.

THE PACIFIC tracks the intertwined real-life journeys of three U.S. Marines across the Pacific Theater during World War II.  The miniseries follows these men and their fellow Marines from their first battle with the Japanese on Guadalcanal, through the rain forests of Cape Gloucester and the strongholds of Peleliu, across the bloody sands of Iwo Jima and through the horror of Okinawa, and finally to their triumphant but uneasy return home after V-J Day[1].

As a huge fan of Band of Brothers I was anticipating much of the same type of story when THE PACIFIC debuted in mid March.  After Part 2 I quickly realized that THE PACIFIC was quite different from Band of Brothers and I thoroughly questioned whether THE PACIFIC had delivered as well as its predecessor.  It was after probably the third or fourth episode that it dawned on me what the fundamental difference was between THE PACIFIC and Band of Brothers.  The first time I watched Band of Brothers I was overcome with feelings of pride, patriotism and even a desire to enlist in the armed forces.  Band of Brothers’ European setting has a feel of glory, adventure and heroism about it, which left me wishing I were in my twenties in the early 1940s so that I could do my part in the war effort.  THE PACIFIC on the other hand paints a very different picture from that of Band of Brothers.  Like Band of Brothers, THE PACIFIC does not shy away from the graphic nature of the Second World War.  However, those who fought in the Pacific theater battled a much different enemy in a much different environment.  The battles in the Pacific were fought on pieces of land most people had never heard of opposed to romantic and world-class cities like Paris and Rome.  There was a good quote in Part 10 of THE PACIFIC from an American cab driver to one of THE PACIFIC’s main characters Robert Leckie.  The cab driver, that was a veteran of the Normandy invasion waved Leckie’s cab fare upon his return home saying, “I may have jumped into Normandy but I had the assets of London and Paris, all you got was jungle rote and malaria.”  To me that was the primary difference between THE PACIFIC and Band of Brothers; Band of Brothers left me wishing I were part of the war where THE PACIFIC left me thankful I was not.

The portrayal of war in THE PACIFIC was so real, graphic and violent it left me mesmerized and forgetting to blink for what felt like entire episodes.  I cannot image myself sitting in water filled holes for weeks at a time and sharing my living space with decaying bodies. THE PACIFIC unquestionably shows the efforts and sacrifices of the ‘Greatest Generation’ in the purest of ways.  My generation will never know and never understand the contributions and sacrifices of those who participated in the Second World War.  However, watching THE PACIFIC is a good start to understanding how the Second Great War broke the minds and souls of so many young men.


[1] HBO CANADA. THE PACIFIChttp://www.hbocanada.com/thepacific/about.php.  May 17, 2010.

 

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Lest We Forget

Posted in History, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2010 by Jordan

April 9, 1917 is a date that will remain entrenched in Canadian history forever.  It is the date that many Canadians consider the birth of Canada as a nation.  It is the date that four Canadian Divisions went over the top and led the allied offensive at Vimy Ridge in the First World War.  It was a successful offensive that many military and war historians consider the turning point of the Great War.

I studied history in school, wrote an essay on Canada’s success at Vimy and taught a lesson to a grade eleven class on how the events at Vimy Ridge contributed to Canada’s distinction as a nation and independence from Britain.  However, it wasn’t until a colleague of mine came into my office yesterday and wished me a Happy Canada Day that I first remember the anniversary of Vimy Ridge and second, took time to remember the great sacrifices men younger than myself made some 93 years ago to help preserve the freedoms so many of us take for granted today.  It made me think and question why such influential Canadian moments are not celebrated and remembered throughout Canada more prominently.

While reading an article in the Globe and Mail last night I was pleased to find out that there was actually a rather extensive ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa yesterday commemorating the Battle of Vimy Ridge. However, that same article mentioned that absence of John “Jack” Babcock, the last living veteran of the conflict, who died on February 18 at the age of 109.  With so many of our great veterans passing away, I feel their great efforts have become more and more distant from our present thoughts.  Consequently, it is becoming more and more important that we do not forget the freedoms we have bestowed upon us and we do not forget the men and women who gave up so much in both World Wars to ensure we had the opportunity to live the lives we do today.  Remember battles like Vimy, Passchendaele, the Somme, Dieppe and Normandy because it the existence of these battles that we remember on Remembrance Day.

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