OK, I’m not watching Ken Burns’ The War. Yeah, there’s the fact that he gives short-shrift to Hispanics. My grandfather was a Marine at both Midway and Iwo Jima. For him, like other New Mexicans, service was central to proving that they were good Americans. Their story would have fit well into Burns’ narrative of the Second World War as a common, integrating experience for all Americans. Of course, similar problems plagued Jazz. Why does Burns do African-American history so well, but fail at showing the diversity of American history?
I am no, however, refusing to watch in protest. World War Two as oral history is something that seems overdone. The bookstores are glutted with books revealing the personal accounts of the war. Indeed we’ve already come to the point when we try to understand the experiences of feelings of those we fought, as with Letters from Iwo Jima. Burns pioneered this approach, but it seems that this territory has been well cultivated.
[ETA] Service was not just something that forged New Mexicans into Americans, it was a tool that they consciously and deliberately used to prove their identity.