The Pacific And The Power Of Fine Television

As I mentioned several weeks ago, Kish and I have been hooked on The Pacific, the miniseries on HBO, and we watched it to the end.  I thought it was some of the best television I have ever seen.

The last episode aired on Sunday, and it was powerful stuff indeed.  In fact, the tremendous power of the episode was especially surprising, because after weeks of watching people getting shot and blown to bits, dealing with soul-searing horror, and struggling — not always successfully — to maintain their essential humanity, we got to see them come home to a peaceful, bucolic America that had not really changed since they had left.  The prior weeks of bloody carnage and terror made the poor, ravaged veterans’ return all the more poignant, as they struggled to find jobs, get grounded, and deal with loved ones who could not possibly understand what they had lived through.  How unreal and bizarre America must have seemed!  The scene where Private Sledge sat under a beautiful spreading tree on the lawn of his sprawling family home in Mobile, Alabama, politely yet firmly explaining to his mother that he had no plans and no interest in looking for work for a while, was especially memorable in that regard.

The clincher was the last few minutes of the broadcast, where the actors depicting the characters morphed into the actual soldiers, and we saw what they went on to achieve.  Most of them married, raised families, had successful careers, and somehow dealt with the nightmares and ingrained terror.  How did they do it, and how can our country ever repay the debt it owes to them?

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