Posts Tagged 'Paul Aurandt'

A HORROR STORY

Chains

by Paul Aurandt

“It was in a little colonial house in eastern Virginia . . . that Henry lived . . . apparently alone.

“One late evening, friends came to visit.  Henry and his guests sat in the candlelit parlor, quietly talking, watching the flickering shadows on the walls.  There was a lull in the conversation . . . and a noise!

“Faint at first, then louder.

“A scratching sound . . . beneath the floor.

“Everyone had heard it.  Henry . . . pretended not to.

“There were lighthearted remarks about ghosts and such, and after a minute or so, Henry stretched, yawned, asked to be excused so that he might retire for the night.

“When his visitors had gone, Henry tugged at his collar, sighing.  He was alone again.  And none too soon.

“For as Henry’s friends rode off into the dark, against the fading counterpoint of their horses’ hoofs . . . another noise.  Like the first.  Followed by the sound of dragging along the floor joists beneath Henry’s feet.

“Henry stiffened, silently regarding the inconspicuous trapdoor in the hallway floor.

“He reached for a lantern, approached the secret entrance, bent down, took hold of the smooth iron ring . . . and pulled the false panel away.

“Henry peered into the gaping blackness, lowering his lantern, then himself, into the cold cellar.

“As the kerosene flame cast a soft yellow light all about, there was a rustling in the corner.  A figure, barely visible through the gloom, cringing in terror of the brightness, waited.

“Henry walked toward it.

“Henry lifted the lantern . . . and the light fell directly . . . upon a face!  A horribly animated countenance with twisted features which snarled one moment and wept the next.  A blanched wild-eyed visage, filled with torment.  The face . . . of Henry’s wife.

“Henry could not recall the duration of her madness, nor could he recount the endless procession of days and months he had descended the cellar stairs to feed and to care for her.  All the hours of Henry’s life had by now blended into one solitary hour of despair.

“For Henry, the anguish had not diminished . . . to watch his wife tug against her straitjacket restraints . . . to see his love imprisoned through no wrong of her own.

“Once in a great while, like the pulsing glow of a near-cold ember, the faint reflection of a happiness long past shone in the beleaguered woman’s face.  And then, like a flash of black lightning, the horror would return.

“These were the visions that stalked Henry from the depths of that secret place . . . the waking dreams he took to bed with him at night, and at morning into the warm sun.

“Was this on his mind?  Did those visions haunt him, as he addressed the assembly at St. John’s Church the next day, March 23, 1775?  These were his words:

“‘Shall we try argument? . . . Shall we resort to entreaty? . . . What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? . . . We have petitioned, we have remonstrated, we have supplicated . . . . We have been spurned with contempt. . . . There is no longer any room for hope. . . . Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains? . . . Forbid it, Almighty God! . . . I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!’

Patrick Henry.

“And now you know THE REST OF THE STORY.”

MEMORIAL DAY POST 2014

The following is from Destiny: From Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story, by Paul Aurandt (Paul Harvey, Jr.):

How the Defenders Held Out on Bataan

THE BATAAN PENINSULA lies west of Manila Bay in the Philippines.  It is familiar worldwide because of something that happened there during World War II.

For it was only hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor that the Japanese went after the Philippine Islands.  They moved so swiftly and decisively that American and Filipino troops were forced to retreat into a defense zone:  the Bataan Peninsula.

Depot areas were quickly constructed in the interior.  Docks were developed along the peninsular coast.  In the north, defense lines were designated.  And then a fundamental strategy was conceived.

The Americans and Filipinos would stage a heavy resistance, forcing the Japanese aggressors to concentrate their troops.  Then slowly, almost imperceptibly, the defenders would withdraw.  But as the Japanese advanced, they would run into every booby trap American demolition engineers could devise.

These tactics would be repeated over and over.  And they accomplished their primary purpose:  to consume time.

It is for this that Bataan is famous.

History records that after a gallant ninety-eight-day stand against impossible odds, the American and Filipino defenders surrendered to the Japanese.  The cruelty of the enemy during and after the notorious “death march” to the prison camps will perhaps never be forgotten.  But the real triumph of the defenders of Bataan was that they wasted so much of the enemy’s valuable time.  They stalled so long, forcing the Japanese to fight ten times harder than they might otherwise have had to, that the soldiers of the Rising Sun never caught up, never got back on their wartime timetable.  Because of that magnificent holdout on Bataan, the Japanese military effort in the South Pacific never got back on schedule.

One Japanese historical record relates:  “There was an influence, a spiritual influence, exerted by the resistance on Bataan.  Not only did the Japanese at home worry about the length of the period of the resistance on Bataan, but it served to indicate to the Filipinos that the Americans had not deserted them and would continue to try to assist them.”

During that brave stand of almost a hundred days, the Allies were able to organize the defense of Australia and other vital areas in the Southwest Pacific.

Even at that, because the Allies were committed to “get Hitler first,” they would not provide the Bataan defenders with all the supplies and reinforcements and troop replacements and air support they so badly needed.

Said General MacArthur of his heroic soldiers on Bataan:  “My heart ached as I saw my men slowly wasting away.  Their clothes hung on them like tattered rags.  Their bare feet stuck out in silent protest.  Their long bedraggled hair framed gaunt bloodless faces . . . They cursed the enemy and in the same breath cursed and reviled the United States . . .”

But they hung on.  They continued to fight.  For ninety-eight days.  And until now, few knew THE REST OF THE STORY.

For, shortly before the beginning of the war, General MacArthur’s quartermaster put in an order for some fuel containers, eighteen thousand empty fifty-five-gallon oil drums.

I say empty drums.  There was already plenty of fuel stored throughout the Philippines.

But someone fouled up the order for those fuel containers, sent eighteen thousand fifty-five-gallon drums full of gasoline.

Thus was a million gallons of then unwanted, unneeded fuel sent across the bay to an out-of-the-way storage dump–on the peninsula of Bataan.

It was that fuel which fueled the tanks and the transports and the tractors and the generators, the war machinery of the Bataan defenders.  And conserving as best they could for almost a hundred precious, bloody days, they at last ran out of the gas–that nobody ordered.


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