When the rest of the world moved on in 1945, Hiroo Onoda did not
know the war was over. He was given supplies and ammunition,
and this final instruction: Defend Lubang Island. Keep a close eye
on the American forces. Do this until you hear orders otherwise
that come directly from me. With that his commanding officer,
Major Taniguchi, left him behind with this one last job to carry out.
And Lt. Onada did that one job and for thirty years he didn't know
that WWII was long over, and he didn't have to fight anymore.
Every time I have a drinking dream, I think about Lt. Onada.
It's funny how the human mind works, but I have one brain cell,
at least, dedicated to recalling his name and story. I'm not upset
by the drinking dreams, because they are dreams and do not count
as relapses in the real world; and it's because another braincell,
obviously, was ordered once to watch guard over a vital pipeline,
to make sure I had a uninterrupted supply of alcohol always, always
available, should it ever be needed and it always was, every day.
Like Onada, it clings to the last order it was given, to make sense
of a changing world that forgot it, by refusing to give up the fight.
When outsiders came to Lubang, he fired at them, the war still on
as far as he knew. They had to fly the retired Major Taniguichi in
so Lt. Onada could hear it from him directly. Onada handed over
his sword, his Arisaka rifle, and a dagger his mother gave him
to use, should he be captured. But he never was. He surrendered
instead, with no shame. It was 1974. His long war was at last over.
And on the mornings, when I've finally shaken off the false shame
of a dream drink that never happened, I tell that braincell Thank you,
you had one job and you did it well, but now it is time for you to stop
fighting, to leave the pipeline to run dry, and to come back home.
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