Sunday, March 14, 2010

Manilla John

It seems like just yesterday I overcame the procrastination inherent in my being and canceled HBO.  Not that I have anything against the cable giant.  It was just that after subscribing for many years and enjoying much of their programming, they had slid in to the repetitive abyss of other cable providers and kept repeating the same tired repertoire of movies.  So after a suitable period of mourning for Rome, and having found other places to watch repeats of the Sopranos and Six Feet Under I finally called and canceled the account.  The budget here was fifteen bucks to the good a month and I limited my TV viewing to other channels that provided crappy programming as part of my basic subscription.  Then.....they screwed me.

Tonight at 9pm EDT I will be glued to the flat screen and the DVR will be whirring as I drink in what should be an epic, The Pacific.  Like many of you I grew up on a steady diet of black and white war films starring greats like Robert Mitchum and John Wayne.  As I got a bit older and understood the necessary horrors of war I found myself drawn to more contmporary films about war.  But thanks to the Hollywood left most of it amounted to America bashing under the guise of art.  The genre took a great turn after Private Ryan and Band of Brothers.  And now, a special treat.  The story of Marines as they slogged through hell in the Pacific Theater.  It promises to be a great bit of TV.

But even more intriguing for me is the inclusion of a local New Jersey hero as one of the main characters.  John Basilone was from Raritan, New Jersey.  Raritan was and stills is largely a town populated by Italian families many of whom were stone masons that were brought here from Italy to work on the construction of the expansive Duke estate (think Duke University tobacco fortune money).  John Basilone won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on Guadalcanal.  After receiving the awarded he was shipped back to the states to help sell war bonds.  A true leatherneck he could not stay here in the states while his comrades were in peril and his country needed him.  He returned to combat and was killed in action on Iwo Jima.

So while I enjoy the heroic exploits of the United States Marines over the next ten weeks I will also be thinking about "Manila John" and the price he and so many neighbors have paid over the decades to keep our country safe.

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