Grapes of Wrath 

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on

Battle Hymn of The RepublicJulia Ward Howe, 1861

All arguments ceased, completely, when five transports of Marines met us one morning. It was a solemn moment when they hove into sight. We knew what the ships were, and that our lives and fortunes depended upon those Leathernecks. At such moments a bond is established that no subsequent hardship can ever break. From that moment on, the Marines in those ships were our friends. We would see none of them until we hit the beaches they had won for us, and some of them would never speak to us, lying upon the shores . . . Those Marines were our friends....


The intensity, the inevitability, the grindingness of Alligator were too great for any one man to comprehend. It changed lives in every country in the world. It exacted a cost from every family in Japan and America. Babies were born and unborn because of Alligator, and because of Alligator a snub-nosed little girl in Columbia, South Carolina, who never in a hundred years would otherwise have found herself a husband, was proposed to by a Marine corporal she had met only once. He was on the first wave that hit the beach, and the night before, when he thought of the next day, he cast up in his mind all the good things he had known in his life. There was Mom and Pop, and an old Ford, and Saturday nights in a little Georgia town, and being a Marine, and being a corporal, and there wasn't a hell of a lot more. But there was that little girl in Columbia, South Carolina. She was plain, but she was nice. She was the kind of girl that sort of looked up to a fellow. So this Marine borrowed a piece of paper and wrote to that girl: “ Dear Florella, mabe you dont no who i am i am that marine Joe Blight brot over to see you. You was very sweet to me that night Florella and i want to tell you that if I . . .

But he didn't. Some don't. To Florella, though, who would never be married in a hundred years anyway, that letter, plus the one that the chaplain sent with it, . . well, it was almost as good as being married.


They will live a long time, these men of the South Pacific. They had an American quality. They, like their victories, will be remembered as long as our generation lives. After that, like the men of the Confederacy, they will become strangers. Longer and longer shadows will obscure them, until their Guadalcanal sounds distant on the ear like Shiloh and Valley Forge. 

~ James Michener, Tales of the South Pacific, 1947


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