A Pledge of Silence

Flora J. Solomon

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World War II discussions often trigger memories. If you have a story you would like to share with other readers, mail it to me and I’ll post it on my Potpourri Page.
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flora@apledgeofsilence.com
modeling uniforms

Discussion Questions

  1. Margie thought of herself not as a hero, but as a survivor, doing only what had to be done. Frank saw his actions as a medic heroic. Do you agree with their self-assessments? What is the difference between a survivor and a hero?

  2. Both Margie and Frank came home from the war physically exhausted and psychologically damaged. How did their homecomings differ? How did society’s expectations for their futures differ?

  3. Dr. Garber counseled Margie to consider her sufferings as well as her accomplishments when deciding what to do with her life. He said turning her misfortunes into triumphs was a way to conquer them. How was Margie able to do this?

  4. Do you think Margie was ever able to forgive herself for her pivotal and malevolent deed during the Japanese shelling of Santo Tomas? How would one rationalize such an act?

  5. Which nurse—Margie, Evelyn, or Gracie—do you think displayed the greatest strength of character? Why did you choose her?

  6. The experiences of the POW nurses was generally unknown until the mid-1980s. Why do you think their story remained obscure for so many decades? What was happening in the 1980s that brought their story to light?

  7. How would women’s roles in the military today be different if the valor of the women who served during World War Two had been recognized and valued?

  8. While hundreds of Santo Tomas internees died during internment, all of the real-world nurses returned home. What factors might have played a role in their 100% survival rate?

  9. The opportunities for women expanded during World War Two, but were suppressed again in the 1950s. This is often cited as one root of the second wave of the women’s liberation movement. How would that be so? Where are we now in this cycle? What might provide the next push for women’s equality?

  10. Upon repatriation, military POWs were required to sign a document stating they would keep silent about their experience in the camps. What was the purpose of it? Did the purpose justify the psychic havoc it caused?