Beyond Courage: A Musical Tribute to the Survivors of the Bataan Death March
On 9 April 1942, American forces in Bataan and Corregidor were surrendered to the Japanese. For the survivors of what would later be called the â€œBataan Death March,â€ the warâ€™s end in August 1945 did not mark an end to their agonizing imprisonment, ordeals on the â€œHell Shipsâ€ and then continued slave labor in Japan. For them, the war would last much longer. In fact, it took almost 40 years before many of these valiant ex-POWs began to speak of the events we now sum in the phrase, â€œBataan Death March.â€
In 2003, a musical work was commissioned and composed by Stephen Melillo, and given the same title as a book by author Dorothy Cave. Beyond Courage is made complete by an historically accurate, pre-recorded soundtrack bearing nearly 40 minutes of authentic radio & musical clips from WWII, excerpts and lyrics of which are pertinent to the events of Bataan and Corregidor during the three years, eight months and 25 days where 31,095 souls were sacrificed to conditions and hardships beyond measure or words. The highly compressed and dramatic 65 minutes of work represents only 1/31,385th of the time given by these Defenders of Freedom.
In May of 2005, the 60th year marking the end of WWII, Beyond Courage, Then. Now. Always: A Documentary in Music, a historically accurate and therefore politically incorrect musical journey inspired by the Bataan Death March, 3.5 years of imprisonment, the Hell Ships and more was recorded, and the work nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Music.
With all of the Music on this 2-CD set copyrighted 11 September, Beyond Courage, re-titled by the Japanese, Kakehashi: That We Might Live, was recorded by 143 Musicians of the combined Japanese Military… yes, you read that correctly.
Dorothy Caveâ€™s husband, a survivor named Jack Aldrich, watched men die for singing the first 6 notes of God Bless America. Now, this arrangement which serves as an integral, Historic reprieve is enthusiastically rendered by uniformed members of the Japanese Military. Kakehashi means, â€œbridge.â€
For all Bataan Veterans and their families, this CD is a gift free of charge.
The reaction to Beyond Courage has been tremendous.
â€œWords cannot express the soaring emotions which one experiences when hearing this monumental work. You deserve the Medal of Freedom for this piece of patriotism, especially for your success in having the spirited cooperation of a once-despised and brutal enemy. I salute you, Sir!â€ said Joseph R. Priestley, LCDR, USN (Ret.), who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
Mr. Harold Hise, a Bataan survivor, said, â€œI donâ€™t understand how you can make something so beautiful out of such misery. We donâ€™t need to be ashamed any more of our forced surrender.â€
Wrote Jan Girand in the Roswell Daily record: â€œâ€˜How can anyone put to music, make something good, of such deeply suffered events so memorably cruel, so personally humiliating, so heart-breaking to survivors and the families of those sacrificed? It canâ€™t be done,â€™ repeatedly said author Dorothy Cave, survivor Jack Aldrich and others who felt the pathos or personally endured the then-seemingly-unending event. â€˜Itâ€™s impossible,â€™ they said, when he told them what he intended to do. And for the first time, that weekend in April 2004, they came, they saw and they learned that Melillo could do and successfully did do the impossible.â€
To get this CD, contact Stephen Melillo, Composer at 757-356-1928, or order online, as well as read about the tribute, at stormworld.com.