Wars are like car accidents. The outcome can be tragic, yet there is this creepy fixation, like you cannot look away. Everyone has experienced this phenomenon as they pound frustratingly on his/her steering wheel, hoping someone finally starts moving, but knowing exactly why no was is. I had this same odd, tragic, and frustrating attraction to the Bataan Death March. The Death March was completely comprised of death and despair yet, the very inhumanity of it was seducing.
Unfortunately for me, the Bataan Death March is not a person. Thankfully, General Jonathan Wainwright is. General Wainwright is the humanity masked by the mass cruelty of the Death March; the shining star overshadowed by the blackness and despair. He is the person that makes me stop morbidly staring at the disaster, but stop and contemplate what is actually happening. He had to face challenges and obstacles that no one else in the military could, or had to; challenges that I cannot even begin to fathom.
It was the juxtaposition between the evil of the Bataan Death March and the inhuman heroism of General Wainwright that drew me to the general. I wanted to study something so unlike my daily life, my daily normalcy, the boring monotony that greets me everyday, something that didn’t fit into my schedule of waking up, going to school, doing homework, eating, breathing, and sleeping, and this definitely didn’t fit in any of those categories.
Again, a slight disadvantage of mine in this project, was that I knew as much about General Wainwright as I know about the mating habits of the beluga whale; almost nothing. This must inevitably confuse people. Why would I choose a person I know nearly nothing about? I merely knew enough to realize why he inspires me; he risked everything for average people like me during World War II, just like my grandfather did.
My grandfather was always a military man. He never ranted on about bullets flying around him, but I always knew what drove every meticulous action of his. I remember working on his truck with him one sticky summer day when I was eight years old, and he muttering that shotty mechanic work like that would kill a marine in a helicopter. My grandfather’s military career in World War II always affected him in one way or another; it must have done the same thing to General Wainwright, but to an even more severe extent.
I wanted to know exactly what these effects were and to what extent they affected General Wainwright. Were these effects positive or negative? What was his greatest accomplishment or greatest regret, and what did this do to his life after World War II. Frankly, my mind is always a jumbled mess, and it was no different when considering questions about General Wainwright. I knew so little, that I wanted to know everything I possibly could.
I hoped learning all this information would not be a monumental waste of time. I already had to do a mammoth of a junior exhibition in history, and despite being interested in...