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“The Janesville 99”

By Teresa Nguyen
May 29, 2021


1942, the height of the war
Stretching through Europe, the Pacific and more
They looked like grown men, but they were just boys
Enduring the terror, the deafening noise
War is not cool, nor casual or fun
When facing the barrel of the enemy’s gun

The danger was real and given no choice
They had to surrender, no one gave them voice
They could not protest they had to obey
Taken as prisoner that terrible day
Ninety-nine soldiers from Janesville alone
And many more men, so far now from home

They captured our boys, they stole all their smiles
They forced them to walk for some 65 miles
Their captors were brutal, beating them down
They tortured and taunted and kicked them around
Some were too sick, too weak, left to die
No one could help them, no one dared to try

Bataan March to labor, such treatment so cruel
Working so hard, no food to refuel
So many were lost to evil those years
Imagine the pain, imagine the tears
The sins of the heartless is their price to pay
When life ends for them, come judgement day

The families back home carried grief in their hearts
A young man, a family, so torn apart
Of those 99, 35 men survived
War's end brought them home, but took of their lives
No escaping the dreams, nightmares so real
What we can’t imagine or ever could feel

What lessons can we, our society, learn
Through stories of trauma, we must find concern
What lies in store for the next generation?
What will we choose for the growth of our nation?
We cannot forget the cries of the past
If good shall prevail and peace is to last
 
© 2021 by Teresa Nguyen
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Janesville, Wisconsin's Survivors of the WWII Bataan Death March 
Bataan Death March Memorial at Las Cruces, New Mexico