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Joshua Kameron Doss Composition 1 November 14, 2012 Essay 3

“In war, some men lose their minds, most lose their humanity, while others just die.” -Josh

硫 島 ら 手 黄 か の 紙
Letters from Iwo Jima

Argument: There is honor in war, even in the enemy

In a brief summary of the movie Letters from Iwo Jima, the island of Iwo Jima stands between the American military force and the homeland of Japan. Therefore the Imperial Japanese Military is desperate to prevent it from falling into American hands, thus providing a launching point for an invasion of Japan. [1] Wars are horrific and a necessary evil for the greater good and for the progression of the “humanity” , but at what cost? On the assault of Iwo Jima there were in excess of 30,000 combined deaths. Which fails in comparison to World War II of Battle of Stalingrad, between 1942 - 1943 which was the worst engagement that ever ravaged this earth, racking up nearly 2 million deaths alone. [2][3] Was so much pain, destruction and death necessary, and so callously? At the end of World War II the death toll count was seventy-two million souls lost. Was what were after worth that cost? Revenge? [4]

In the movie, Letters from Iwo Jima, you see that the island Iwo Jima is an important and strategic launching point for the Americans to invade Japan. The Japanese knew it and the assault lasted for 36 days. the American forces figured it would only take five days to take the island. The engagement lasted as long as it did only due to Tadamichi Kuribayashi, the commander of the Japanese garrison during the Battle of Iwo Jima. This man gave all the soldiers a great deal of honor in the movie, he was kind and a just man. Which I found surprising, as an Americans, we tend to stereotype people of other countries and think they are all bad because we are at war with them, maybe that's just ignorance. We often forget they have a human side as well.[5][6][7] In the movie, the character Saigo, a soldier that was drafted unwillingly into the army. who has a naive young wife with his unborn child at home, as we follow his story through the movie, we see a flashback that brings in the incredible moment that Saigo was drafted. We witness the emotion that his wife expressed of her grief due to her husband‟s misfortune. The women mourned saying, “all of their husbands and sons have left to serve and die”. My first realizations of war was when I was in the 8th grade. Mr. Dearing, my World History teacher, who posted daily death and injury numbers counts on the whiteboard of our soldiers overseas, particularly in Iraq. I clearly remember when the death count hit 4,000, he was absolutely appalled by such high numbers. But, earlier that very same week, we discussed one of the most infamous World War II campaigns, D-day. D-day resulted in over twenty-thousand deaths in a single engagement. Not to minimize the mockery of any war‟s casualties, but our current overseas losses seem small in comparison to our nation‟s earlier wars, primarily World War II. [8]

Ever since that conversation, I've always wondered why millions upon millions of men enlist. Just to voluntary run in to the sounds of chaos and know they are going to cause someone‟s death? Have they lost their minds or have they lost something more important, their humanity? I wonder if some people join the service just so they can kill people? Does this make them “evil”? The population‟s of the countries we are fighting probably think we are. But just like the Japanese commander Tadamichi Kuribayashi who, despite being our enemy, did his job with honor.

The United States today claims to be a “peacekeeping” nation. We are involved with the United Nations. We help other countries by sending our armed services, this is a tremendous humanitarian effort with a great cost, our servicemen‟s lives. Why do these world conflicts concern us? Just consider the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We spend trillions of US dollars, sacrifice tens of thousands of US soldier‟s lives, and for what? Our own wants and needs, to protect our interests, such as oil, or WMD‟s. In the beginning the US campaign to save Iraq was one of honor. We were going to liberate a nation from an evil dictator. Did we? We certainly don‟t seem to be that popular. Was there honor in our motives? There is a quote from the Matrix, the scene when Morpheus is trying to convince Neo to abandon everything he knows, to know the real „truth” Morpheus stated “Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.” [9][10][11][12] The irony being, that whether we initiate an invasion with honor or not, whether our troops are acting with honor or not, the US is looked upon as doing something wrong.

While watching this movie I was reminded of the theory of chaos, subsequently called the Chaos Theory, especially the “butterfly effect”. The Butterfly Effect is the sensitive

dependence on initial conditions. In laymen‟s terms, the behaviors of all dynamic systems are dependent upon their initial conditions. [13][14][15] My point is, that during the movie the Japanese forces on Iwo Jima had absolutely no chance in hell of winning the engagement, The Imperial Japanese Navy was the only chance for Japan winning and keeping Iwo Jima. Unfortunately, their navy was almost entirely destroyed, the island was lost. The Japanese command on the island had thought that their navy would save them, little did they know, their worst fears had be wrought. What I learned while watching this movie is that there is honor in war. There is honor among the enemy. As justified as we feel in invading a country, they feel the same way. What often is the case is that the honorable man is fighting for his government's dishonorable agenda.

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