26 September 2007

The War

We started watching Ken Burns' new documentary The War on PBS Sunday night. I am, so far, very impressed. I like that the film emphasizes the people involved in the various events and battles. I really love the historical aspect of family history. What is the use of knowing (or having on record) a gazillion names and dates without actually knowing anything about the people? This particular documentary really emphasizes the people that took part in it, and frankly that's what really matters. Weapons without men to operate them are completely useless. As are plans without people to carry them out. History is not just events and dates. In fact, history is nothing without people who were affected by Important Names holding Important Events on Important Dates.

I've really enjoyed listening to people explain how the war affected them in the states. It has been fascinating to learn about the racial tensions that developed. And heartbreaking too. It really is tragic that in the middle of the twentieth century our nation was still treating people of different races only slightly better than animals. The documentary has focused on a number of black Americans, especially men. It's been interesting to hear what they have to say about why they did or did not sign up for the military, and how they felt about the way they were treated.

I have learned a lot about how people of Japanese descent were treated as well. Of course I knew about the way our government treated them, but it's seemed more real listening to people who were college students at the time talk about how their lives changed.

As the documentary continues, I look forward to hearing about the segregated Black and Japanese-American military units in the war. It seems they had a lot more to prove than some of the white soldiers.

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