As I have said elsewhere, in watching the Ken Burns film “The War,” I was deeply moved by Quentin Aanenson’s thoughtful comments showing how great the sacrifice soldiers make, not only in their suffering and in the danger they endure, but in their laying down their innocence. Tonight (I write this Wednesday night, after watching the re-broadcast of the final episode) I was struck by the choice Glenn Dowling Frazier had to make, and the price he paid until he was able to make it.
Frazier had been a prisoner of the Japanese from the fall of Bataan in the spring of 1942 to the very last day of the war. He and his friends had endured sadistic cruelty that could only have been matched halfway around the world in the death camps of Nazi Germany. He had survived the Bataan Death March. He had survived four different POW camps inside Japan. He had spent months expecting to be killed the moment that American troops set foot on Japanese soil.
Unexpectedly, he had survived. He had made it home. He was safe – except, then the nightmares began. He had plenty of reason for nightmares, of course, but in 1945 there was little help to be found for the scars that veterans brought home that didn’t show. Ultimately, though, what nearly destroyed his life wasn’t nightmares, but something much worse. He found himself unable to stop hating. Continue reading Frazier’s choice