Poem for June 19

June 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

From a Filpino Death March Survivor Whose World War II Benefits Were Rescinded by the U.S. Congress in 1946

In Memoriam, Augusto Roa Realuyo, 1921-2003

  1. I left three years ago.
  2. If you want to know about my rural childhood, ask my survivors.
  3. If you want to know how I was recruited into the United States army at twenty, ask President Roosevelt.
  4. If you want to know how I ended up in the Death March at twenty-one, ask General MacArthur.
  5. If you want to know how many of my friends perished in the Japanese concentration camps, ask General Homma.
  6. If you want to know how I contracted malaria, beri-beri, dysentery, skin disease, gastrointestinal disease in one month, ask the Japanese Camp Commander.
  7. If you want to know how my military benefits were rescinded at the end of the war, ask President Truman.
  8. If you want to know how I became a 100% disabled veteran, ask my V.A. doctors.
  9. If you want to know how I got burial benefits, ask President Clinton.
  10. If you want to know why I wasn’t buried in Arlington, ask Judge Owen.
  11. If you want to know how I died without seeing the Rescission Act of 1946 repealed, ask me again.
  12. Then again.
  13. I’ve been asking myself the same question for sixty years.
  14. _______.
  15. I don’t know why, really.
  16. I don’t know why Filipinos have ignored it for so long.
  17. I don’t know why Americans don’t know this happened.
  18. I don’t want to think about this anymore.
  19. 46…
  20. 06. Sixty years. I couldn’t wait anymore

_________
At the end of World War II the U.S. Congress passed the Rescission Act of 1946, which denied Filipino veterans wartime benefits. Filipino veterans of World War II, now in their twilight years, continue to fight for their dignity and the benefits owed to them.

Bino A. Realuyo, from The Gods We Worship Live Next Door (University of Utah Press, 2006)

The Gods We Worship Live Next Door

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