Patriots Pageant inspires WWII memoirs

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    By Rachel Ballard

    PROVO, Utah– Residents from around the area gathered to pay tribute to America”s veterans Tuesday night, July 1, at the Patriots Pageant held in the Provo Tabernacle.

    Keynote speaker Robert Warnock, a World War II veteran, described the sacrifices made during the war and called on all Americans to take advantage of the freedoms they have been given.

    “Every American, regardless of nation of origin, color of skin, religion of preference, or time of arrival, has a debt to pay to the men and women who have served in times of crisis since our nation began,” Warnock said.

    “We do have a mind, a voice, and a vote,” he added. “Our voice should be heard, and our vote should be given where we feel the best leader resides.”

    Warnock focused his remarks on the courage of U.S. troops stationed on the Bataan Peninsula on the Philippine Islands during World War II.

    Following the United States entrance into the war, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands. Enemy leaders planned that the assault would last no more than 55 days, but under the leadership of Major General Edward P. King, Jr., the “Battling Bastards of Bataan” held their position for 148 days before surrendering to enemy forces. Their courage in battle provided valuable time for United States forces to gain strength in other locations.

    “The heroes of Bataan were the sick, starved, and determined fighters who held up Japanese forces until General King felt it was necessary to surrender,” Warnock said. “The heroes were those who felt ashamed to surrender when they knew they could fight one more day.”

    At the time of their sacrifice, General Jonathan Wainwright, commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific, explained the significance of the men”s stand at Bataan.

    “Every day meant lives saved on some other battlefield,” he said.

    Warnock”s remarks came to life during the pageant that followed as men and women narrated the events of Bataan.

    Pageant participants described the horrors of the Bataan Death March, which began soon after General King”s forces surrendered. During the march, American and Filipino soldiers were forced to walk 55 miles to prisoner of war camps.

    As the narrators were spotlighted on stage, they related how those who could not maintain the pace were brutally beaten or killed.

    Six hundred fifty Americans and between five and ten thousand Filipinos died on the march. An additional 1600 Americans perished in POW camps. According to the accounts given in the pageant, two men died for every one who was liberated and returned home.

    At the pageant”s conclusion, audience members cheered as men dressed to represent veterans from the Revolutionary War through present conflicts came on stage and children carrying American flags paraded down the isles.

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