Five years after founding The Gratitude Campaign, I've received over 10,500 e-mails, and 1,500 comments on YouTube. It seems that there is a lot to talk about with regard to gratitude for those who serve; not the least of which is the ever present challenge of understanding how to keep the politics out of it. Hopefully this blog will give us an opportunity for some rational, reasonable, and respectful discussion. I hope you'll join us...

~Scott Truitt, FOUNDER


Thursday, March 31, 2011

On The Pacific

Continuing our conversation on movies that have informed and inspired our gratitude for those who serve, I suppose I could have chosen any number of the movies that people listed as their most inspiring. But for some reason, The Pacific is standing out to me right now as worthy of discussion.

Like many of the other movies listed, I think that Spielberg and Hanks’ HBO series The Pacific tells the full story of those who serve and have served, with sometimes brutal realism, shocking imagery, and very frank, to the point, but at the same time very human writing.

There is one scene in the whole series that is standing out to me right now, that I think illustrates an important point that was clearly relevant at the end of WWII and, unfortunately, is still relevant today.

In the final chapter of the movie series, one of the Soldiers that the series had followed through his combat experience in the Pacific campaign has returned home following the Japanese surrender, and is attending a job fair to transition back into civilian life. The clerk checking him in asks him if he has any experience in a long list of skills that might translate well to the private sector. After responding, “No. No. No. No.” again and again, she finally asks him what the Army did train him for. He responds, (and I’m paraphrasing here) “They trained me to kill Japs. And I got pretty goddamn good at it.”

This Soldier, like many others in the film, is clearly struggling with Post Traumatic Stress – although they didn’t call it that in 1945 – and completely lost as to how to transition back into his old life. He is a shell of the man who left home to defend his country. And he has no idea what to do, or who to be now. Unfortunately, it seems, not much has changed on that front. This is still a huge problem for those returning from combat zones today. They still feel lost. They still have PTS. And we’re still not supporting them as we should.

Sting said, “History will teach us nothing.” I hope we can prove him wrong. (I suspect he hopes so, too.)


  1. Although 'The Pacific" was indeed good, I believe that the series 'Band of Brothers' was even better, mainly because it was easier to follow the individual men throughout the war, get an idea of what hell they suffered through, and see the changes it brought about in each man as time passed. Every time I watch an episode (especially Bastogne) my heart aches for their suffering, and I truly feel like most of us aren't worthy of their sacrifices.

    The stories in 'Band of Brothers' and 'The Pacific' are however, worthy of being incorporated into required history lessons in our schools. Perhaps if enough of the next generation is exposed to the realities of war they'll do a better job of 'earning" the sacrifices made by so many throughout the years.

  2. The soldier referred to in this blog was Eugene Sledge from Mobile Alabama. From his own writing in later life, Sledge reports saying the following to the young lady at Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University)... "Lady, there was a killing war. The Marine Corps taught me how to kill Japs and try to survive. Now, if that don't fit into any academic course, I'm sorry. But some of us had to do the killing — and most of my buddies got killed or wounded."
    Sledge did attend API(Auburn) and earned both a Bachelor and a Master a degree in Science and later earned a Ph.D. in Biology at the University of Florida. He spent the rest of his career as a professor at Alabama College (now University of Montevallo). His 1981 book "With The Old Breed: At Peleliu & Okinawa was one of the two books "The Pacific" as based on.
    Professor Sledge died in 2001 of stomach cancer. He was 77.
    Rest in peace... strength & honor.
    Michael Blake - Maryland


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