I spent today at Corregidor Island, a small space with a detailed history and an important role in WWII. While there is plenty to be said, the last comments from our guide struck me. (Keep in mind that this is coming from a non-historian!)
The troops (US and Filipino) at Corregidor, the last stronghold as the Philippines was taken over by the Japanese military, held out for almost a month after the fall of Bataan. They knew (according to our tour guide) that victory was unlikely or impossible, and yet they held out, living in a damp tunnel under 300 feet of a stone mountain. The bombs fell, on average, once every five seconds.
The futility of their mission left me wondering why. Why maintain your position when the end is in sight?
History is full of “now we know…” and today’s tour was no exception. It is thought that the delayed Japanese victory at Corregidor forced a schedule change that kept Australia free from occupation. (I don’t recall any of this from my history classes, but at the point, I’m taking the guide at his word.) Sadly, many of the people, including the president of the Philippines at the time, died before they could see the impact of their courage.
But what they did mattered. Even if they didn’t see the end result, their courage changed the way WWII played out.