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Monday, August 12, 2013

A Time of Both Starvation and Gratitude

"I haven't heard from you in a while, where have you been?," Dad inquired.
 "The last time we spoke you had company,  I didn't want to be rude," I answered.
 "Oh yeah, that's right..."

Dad talked about the fluctuating weather and the fact that the Veterans Benefits Administration were assisting him with his eyeglasses and prescriptions. I replied that was excellent, because I have heard and seen so many reports of Veterans not receiving anything but broken promises and neglect. However, news outlets recently stated that the backlog of Veterans Disability claims has decreased.

He then shared more information on his time on the Marshall Islands during World War II. Here was a story I never heard before:

"When you saw the graves of the people that lived on the Marshall Islands you never saw anyone that lived past the age of thirty. They had a diet that was mostly fish and coconuts-- They didn't grow any crops or plants. A large ship from Britain would come to the island and fill the ship with coconuts every so often and sail off."

During World War II, American bombing effected the land's population. The Marshall Islands were a Japanese Colony;  native Marshallese suffered from lack of food and sustained various injuries. And since the Marshall Islands was a battleground with Japan, many of the trapped Japanese soldiers died of starvation. They were not willing to surrender. "We would hear them at night time looking through the garbage for food," Dad recalled.


Like many people throughout the world, the story of the Montford Point Marines does not register, because it is an unknown story about who these brave African American men were. But if you were a member of the White 7th Defense Unit on the Marshall Islands in the middle of World War II, you knew who they were. The Montford Point Marines's 51st Defense Battalion had arrived to relieve them and you were glad to see them....


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