As sad as the above video is, it perfectly summarizes the general discontent and disgust many Americans have towards the soon coming Presidential election, myself included. Putting aside my personal utter disdain and embarrassment, and without breaking into a very long and tedious rant, I will now tell you why I really vote.
The following true story is presented from first-hand testimony shared with me many years ago.
USMC PFC Henry William “Bill” Sublett was my dear friend, he was also the second longest held POW of WWII. Bill was captured by Japanese naval forces in January of 1942 just 6 weeks after he was transferred from Marine Corp boot camp in California to his station aboard the ill-fated USS Houston which was patrolling near the Philippines at the time. During his first patrol aboard the USS Houston, (just prior to her tragic sinking a few weeks later) Bill developed a serious tooth infection and was being transferred to an American medical camp on a nearby island when a Japanese patrol boat opened fire on the small vessel he and 3 other Marines were riding in, Bill was the only survivor of the attack. He was only 20 years old at the time of his capture.
Bill spent the following weeks being shuffled from one small makeshift prison camp to another until eventually finding himself in a newly constructed POW camp on Corregidor Island. During this period Bill was routinely beaten, tortured and starved by his Japanese captors. He was denied treatment of his badly infected tooth and was eventually forced to extract the tooth himself with the aid of a small sharpened stick while his sadistic captors watched. By this time he had also contracted malaria and dengue fever, but his suffering was only beginning. Shortly after his arrival at Corregidor, he would be forced to endure the infamous Bataan Death March along with over 76,000 other American and Philippino POW’s whom had been captured after the fall of Bataan.
During the next few months Bill would be transferred to a series of the most horrific and infamous POW camps in the Philippines including Camp O’Donnel, Cabanatuan, Palawan and several others before finally being transferred in 1943 via the nightmare transports known as “Hell Ships” to his final destination near Nagasaki, Japan, Fukuoka POW Camp #1 Kashii Pine Tree Camp Kyushu Island 33 130. There, Bill would be forced to work as a slave laborer in the coal mines until his eventual liberation in October of 1945. Henry William Sublett was imprisoned for at least 1,258 days (3 years and ~6 months), one of the longest durations of captivity recorded by the International Committee of the Red Cross. (Note: This official record does not include his time in Japanese captivity prior to the fall of Bataan. Only one (1) other American Serviceman is known to have been captured prior to Bill Subletts capture.)
During his long period of captivity in Japan, Bill and all of the other prisoners in Japanese POW camps were constantly subjected to brutal torture, forced labor, starvation, humiliation and summary executions. Bill and a few others in his camp were singled out and targeted for “special treatment” due to their open hatred and rebellion against their sadistic captors, Bill was assigned a single Japanese guard who controlled him throughout his time in Japan. This guard was particularly sadistic and often went to great extremes to ensure that Bill would suffer far beyond what most of the other prisoners were forced to endure. He would stand in front of Bill’s small 3’x 3′ cage (where Bill had been isolated away from the general population) and taunt him constantly, he would shave small slivers of needle sharp bamboo from a stalk and then drive them under Bill’s fingernails one by one until he passed out from the agonizing pain. He denied Bill access to even the starvation diet of boiled roots and weeds that the other prisoners were forced to survive on and would even deny him any of the tainted water scavenged from the filthy jungle pools surrounding the impound while he himself drank fresh spring water right in front of Bill. Bill literally survived by eating the cockroaches, mice and small snakes that entered his small cage and by licking the rain water that collected on the ground beneath his cage. Bill never received even a single Red Cross package (nor did any of the other prisoners) because the Japanese stole them and he received only one small cup of rotting rice during his first week in the POW camp. While Bill toiled 16-18 hours a day in the coal mines, the guard would sleep so that he could torture bill during his brief “rest time” thus denying Bill any rest or sleep at all. Bill literally did not sleep during this entire period until he finally got accustomed to catching a few minutes of exhausted sleep while leaning on the hydraulic jack-hammer he used in the coal mine. (this was the only time that the guard was not directly standing over Bill because he couldn’t stand the heat and dust of the mine) Bill contracted numerous tropical diseases which went untreated until his return to a Naval hospital after the war ended, he lost most of his teeth due to malnutrition, and most of his fingernails never grew back. At 6’1″ tall, Bill weighed only 76 lbs when he was liberated. This is only a very small sampling of the horrendous torture and suffering Bill was forced to endure for 3 1/2 years, there were many other acts of sadistic torture that will remain undisclosed in this accounting! This is the kind of horrific torture ALL of the POW’s in Japanese captivity suffered during WWII!
On the day Fukuoka Camp #1 was liberated, 76 pound USMC PFC Henry William Sublett gathered the last of his remaining strength, and killed his Japanese personal torturer and guard with his bare hands and the shovel he had been forced to use for 3 1/2 years in a coal mine. Then, he slept for the first time in nearly four long years.
Over the next few days, numerous other prisoners would do the same at every POW camp throughout Japan before American officials arrived.
So you see my friends, the next time someone says “your vote doesn’t count” or “I’m not going to bother to vote because I don’t like either candidate”, please remind yourself of this tragic true story and the hundreds of thousands of brave and selfless soldiers who have fought and died and long suffered for your right to live free and vote.
Regardless of how disgusting or seemingly hopeless our political system may be;
This Is Why I Will Vote.