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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

Soldier, soldier

Angela Tongohan
Class of 2020

(7/2017) The topic this month is very close to my heart, because of what I was taught about the sacrifices and sufferings of soldiers in war.

During World War II, the United States of America suffered tremendously as well as the other countries that fell under the shadow of this tragedy. Millions of lives were lost. While many are familiar with the Holocaust and how Adolf Hitler, the German dictator, sought out Jews and killed them, not many people are aware of the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

According to my mother, my grandfather did not speak much about the war. He was in his late 30s when the war began, and he already had three children. Because of his weak joints and his successful citrus farm, he was not qualified to serve, but rather, helped the war effort from afar. His farm was successful and he sent money and food monthly to nearby troops.

My mother said that before the war, my grandfather was a happy man. He smiled often, and rarely ever complained about how tired he was. But as the war went on, he became more silent, more distant, more closed off.

My aunts say itís because many of his friends that never made it home. He hated watching his neighbors sit out on their front porch all day, waiting for their sons or husbands who would never come home.

It got even worse on December 7, 1941. Many people know of Pearl Harbor and how Hawaii endured the worst of the attack, but for my grandfather, that was the day when all his hard work was blasted to bits. The Japanese had also dropped bombs on the Philippines, and my grandfatherís once beautiful and fresh citrus farm was now a pile of rubble and dirt. It was the first time my mother ever saw my grandfather cry.

With the news that the Japanese were starting to invade the islands, he busied himself by adding more protection to the family house. Our family lived in a small town in the province of Laguna, just a few hours away from the countryís capitol, Manila. Fortunately, our familyís town was not too affected by the Portuguese invasion a few years before. But day after day, my grandfather would wait for news of the Japanese. He feared invasion and not being able to protect his family.

The Japanese were fierce, and strong. Before long, they had forced the Philippine government into exile. Along with the rest of the nation, my grandfather lost hope. The Philippine culture was so important to him, as it was with the rest of the citizens of the country. They were a proud people, and they were a people that prioritized their individuality.

There was a rejoicing and no small amount of relief when the Philippines realized that the United States was fighting on their side. Together, the Philippines and the United States succeeded in forcing the Japanese out of the country.

My grandfather taught my mother the importance of becoming a strong, kind, and caring individual. She idolized him and despite the fact that he was unable to fight directly in the war, he was her hero. He lived a life filled with an unconditional kindness towards the troops, no matter the side on which they fought. He provided food and money although he had very little to give to begin with.

Because of him, my mother was able to appreciate the sacrifices soldiers make to honor their country and to protect the people and their freedoms with their lives. When she came to the United States, she often prayed for the unknown soldiers buried in DC. The ones who were never identified, and who had no one visiting them.

The fact that soldiers are brave enough to sacrifice their own lives for the people of their country, people that they will probably never meet, is incredibly courageous and oftentimes sadly under appreciated.

This month, Iíd like to remind you of the valiant and fearless efforts that soldiers make fighting wars to protect our lives and freedom. It is too often that I hear of a veteran left on the street or treated less than they deserve. Without second thought, these men and women were willing to give up their lives for the honor, dignity, and safety of the own people. And while Iíd love to go on more about how important and wonderful soldiers are, I do not believe anything I write will do their sacrifices justice. So, I would like to end this article with a prayer written by Lewis Millet.

"I have fought when others feared to serve.

I have gone where others failed to go.

I've lost friends in war and strife,

Who valued Duty more than love of life.

I have shared the comradeship of pain.

I have searched the lands for men that we have lost.

I have sons who served this land of liberty,

Who would fight to see that other stricken lands are free.

I have seen the weak forsake humanity.

I have heard the traitors praise our enemy.

I've seen challenged men become even bolder,

I've seen the Duty, Honor, Sacrifice of the Soldier.

Now I understand the meaning of our lives,

The loss of comrades not so very long ago.

So to you who have answered duties siren call,

May God bless you my son, may God bless you all."

Read other articles by Angela Tongohan