Lovers of Honor
Your Editor’s Letter on honor in the Fall 2009 issue sparked many thoughts. Honor is alive and well in many Americans today, particularly in the men and women serving in the U.S. armed forces. Yet it seems that our society encourages an attitude of entitlement. Even the Declaration of Independence says we have a right to the pursuit of happiness. We need to teach our children that honor is not a quaint or obsolete concept.
American Heritage is a vital tool in this respect. Our history offers so many shining examples of how men and women of integrity rose to the demands of their times. I grew up on the magazine, and 40 years later I still remember many times as a teenager comparing the lives and actions of our forefathers to the figures I saw around me and in the news. Times and particulars change, but the basic challenges involved in holding true to our values are eternal.
—Capt. James R. Finley,
Crediting All Who Served
I enjoyed Bernard Weisberger’s account of his code breaking in World War II, “Eavesdropping on the Rising Sun” in the Summer 2009 issue. I understand his concern about not wanting to refer to himself as a veteran because he was not in combat. When my uncle, who served as a Marine captain’s adjutant during Okinawa and narrowly missed death from a kamikaze attack, lined up to receive his Pacific campaign ribbons, he saw a line of grizzled, exhausted Marines from Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Saipan. Feeling ashamed, he threw his ribbons away. But all
service men and women had roles to play—even if they didn’t see combat—and I have no doubt that Weisberger’s efforts helped to save countless lives.
Living with Bataan
I read your article “Surviving Bataan” from the Summer 2009 issue with enormous interest. My father, M. Sgt. Joseph Lewis Johnson, USAF, ret., died 16 years ago at the age of 78. He never spoke to me at any length about the death march, but I knew it was the single most critical and disastrous event in his life.
Only hours before he went into a coma, my father opened up to my mother, speaking about things they had never discussed during their 40 years together. People and events, names, places, horrors—all of it the condensed dregs of a nightmare, kept under the pressure of nearly half a century of silence. She listened in helpless bewilderment, unable to catch any of it, but knowing that she was being given a final, belated glimpse behind a locked door they had lived with for four decades.
—Linda M. Johnson
When Roosevelt Took Command
A small item in Douglas Brinkley’s Fall 2009 article, “TR’s Wild Side,” requires clarification. Brinkley writes that Roosevelt had “taken command of the 1,250-man 1st Volunteer Cavalry Regiment along with Leonard Wood . . .” Readers are left to figure out who was actually in command—Roosevelt or Wood. In fact Col. Leonard Wood was the regiment’s first commanding officer and Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt his executive officer. In Cuba, Wood was promoted to brigadier general and given command of the 2nd Brigade, whereupon Roosevelt, promoted to colonel, took command of the Rough Riders. He was in command when the regiment fought its historic engagements at Kettle Hill and the San Juan Heights, and remained so until its disbandment in September 1898.
Leonard Wood had a long career in the years to follow, rising to chief of staff of the U.S. Army, military governor of Cuba, and governor general of the Philippines.