About the Authors
My dad has been telling and writing the stories in this book for as long as I can remember. Ask him a question about the war and he’ll light up telling you all about his experiences in the POW camp. He will tell you the silly stuff first; the crude, rude humor that all the prisoners engaged in to distract themselves from the harsh reality they were living through. Emotions teetered on the brink of expression at all times and no matter how hard the prisoners tried to suppress them, sometimes they bubbled up anyway, surfacing in a cathartic explosion.
If two prisoners argued about anything, soon it would morph into a slug fest and the whole camp would engage in the fight for no apparent reason other than it yanked them out of the boredom of their own repetitive thoughts. With little to stimulate them and with survival constantly on their minds, a fist fight was a way to release pent up emotions. It also gave them something to laugh about afterwards and that was very important for morale.
Dad’s memoir is about what life in camp was really about. What day to day routines filled their lives and the incredible bond that was forged between friends. It does not dwell on the torture and death that was present and possible in every second. Those that dwelled on such thoughts didn’t make it out alive.
And why did he constantly tell and write these stories? It must have been part of his healing process. He would handwrite the stories and my Mom would type them up, first on a typewriter and later on one of the first PCs in existence; the IBM PS2.
As time progressed, I decided to assist him in combining all his stories into a book and a heartfelt process began between me and my dad. We tied stories together, arranged the sequencing of chapters and added detail with me asking him questions about how did that feel. What did you do then? What did that look like? I’ll forever remember the way his gaze would soften as he pondered these questions and bam he was right back in the scene, observing and noticing nuances that perhaps were too painful for him to process the first time. But the details were still there forged in his brain and he would describe the scene again with a depth of understanding perhaps honed by maturity.
When my dad passed away at the age of 87, I was heartbroken. I felt like the book was not complete and our work was not done. But I think he knew it was done. It was just me dragging my feet not wanting our special time to be over. So I put the book down for 8 years. I just couldn’t even look at it or think about it. On some level I had this nagging irrational feeling that if I finished the book I wouldn’t feel him around me anymore. But one morning I changed my mind and I plunged wholeheartedly back into it. This book is one of the greatest joys of my life.
JoAnn Eunice Binns
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