Dire Straits in the South Pacific

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Dire Straits in the South Pacific “We were just cogs in a wheel – little pieces of a big machine. No one thought of being a hero.” This statement reflects just the sort of attitude I have come to expect from my grandfather over the years – modest, understated, discreet, and almost icy. When I undertook this assignment, I must confess that I fantasized about what would happen when my grandfather finally opened up to me about his experiences in World War II, a topic about which he rarely speaks. I imagined some brilliant catharsis would transpire and I would finally come to understand him more fully. His tale would give me the key to unlocking the mystery behind the man who has always loomed over my life like a legend. A man of few words, it was with some hesitation that he agreed to share with me the harrowing tales of his wartime adventures. At the outset of the interview, what he offered was primarily narrative in nature, full of facts, but lacking in emotion and general insight. As he continued his story and the interview wound to a close, the depth and scope of what he had told me took on a deeper significance. Buried in subtext was the essence of what he dared not say. It became obvious that my grandfather's experiences in World War II had profoundly shaped the man he is today. The mystery was no more. Stanley John Bryant was born January 9, 1919, the son of country doctor in Lowell, Massachusetts. In 1937, he realized he had outgrown the small town in which he had spent his childhood. Following the trend of the era and the footsteps of his three brothers, he enlisted in the United States Navy on March 17 of hat year. "I w... ... middle of paper ... ... all costs. What is notable is that both my Grandfather and the nation which he fought to defend both justified their actions along the rationale that war was the only way to preserve the common good. The popular consensus of American involvement in World War II appears in retrospect to have been a truly "Good War" – a venture defined by the purest and most clear-cut utilitarian and humanitarian motivations. My interview with my grandfather has led me to wonder whether or not he buys into this glossy analysis. With his refusal to qualitatively evaluate the American involvement in World War II or take of credit for his own actions, I suspect that even after all these years, he has not been able to fully come to terms with the war and the way it permanently altered his beliefs, personal philosophy, and way of life.

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