Marines Remember

Them landings. I hear them artilleries. That haunts me. The planes were coming over and strafing. I thought they were shooting at us. But it was the casings falling down on us. As we were approaching the beach, over on my right, the Japanese hit a landing craft. When we landed, there was a rise right at the beach that we all went up against. We laid there waiting. Nobody would move. We had a Sergeant [Johnny C.] Jones. Sergeant Jones, a few minutes later, said, "Let's go!" Everybody got up and moved in over the top. You didn't get time to think on the landing. You just reacted.… You didn't hesitate. And when someone told you "go," you went.

As the number of WWII veterans dwindle -- their median age is now just under ninety-five -- any attempt to preserve their war memories takes on special importance. The passage above is from Dale Maharidge's Bringing Mulligan Home: The Other Side of the Good War (2013), which describes a son of a WWII vet on a double mission of memory recovery -- to understand his father, now dead, by understanding his father's war experiences in Guam and Okinawa. Maharidge tracks down as many of his father's fellow Marines as he can find, coaxing many of them to share their traumatic, long-buried memories. This was something Maharidge's father would not do, except in explosive bursts of rage and guilt, sometimes directed at the photo of his squadron buddy Mulligan, tacked to the basement wall: "They said I killed him! But I didn't kill him! It wasn't my fault!"

 


Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at todayinliterature.com.

 

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).