“We are forgotten and forsaken, we are ghosts, but once we were men.” This line was written in a tiny diary found hidden in one of the spartan prison barracks which held the survivors of the Bataan death march. In 1942 the Japanese army had overrun the Philippines and taken prisoner the remaining American and Filipino soldiers. The survivors were finally rescued by the returning American forces in 1945.
Thousands of already weakened starving or ill men were killed along the 60 miles of the initial march, and thousands more died in the deplorable conditions and treatment at the Cabanatuan prison camp. By January 1945, only about 500 men at the camp remained alive, when a contingent of Army Rangers overcame the Japanese and freed them.
The author of a book about these men related that what kept many of those who survived clinging to a ray of hope was the work of the chaplains among them, who used the Word of God to give strength where there was no strength. In the conclusion of his book, the author related his deep respect for those men who came home and resumed their varied lives back in the states. He noted that the families of these men, almost without exception, said that they never heard them complain or lament about what had happened to them and what they had to endure.
Though we never have, and probably never will, endure that degree of prolonged suffering and deprivation, how easy it is for us to complain and gripe when things don’t go just so for us. May God help us in this Veteran’s Day weekend, to be more appreciative of our freedoms which have been purchased for us, and less apt to complain at the slightest inconveniences. Hats off to our veterans and knees bent to the Captain of our salvation!