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tv   Martha Mac Callum Unknown Valor  CSPAN  April 10, 2021 1:35pm-2:01pm EDT

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that needs to change on the long list of biden-harris administration things to change that should be near the top. >> to watch the full program visit booktv.org. type frank figliuzzi or the title of his book "in the fbi way" in the search bar at the top of the page. >> about two years ago, we heard the news that martha maccallum was possibly writing a book. that fact caught our eye because we are always on the lookout for authors of important new books who can join us for our speaker series at the reagan library. so needless to say, we were really pleased when we learned that it was true. martha was in the thick of writing what was certain to be a best selling book. one that was about the heroism
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on american soldiers during the battle of iwo jima. then fortune smiled on us. martha agreed to join us at the reagan library to discuss her book. of course at the time we booked martha to come almost exactly a year ago, little did we know that just a few days before she was to come, the coronavirus pandemic was going to strike, in the wake of the pandemic, we were forced to close the reagan library and cancel all of our events, including our visit with martha. i'm not exaggerating when i say we had to disappoint over a thousand people who were eager to come to the reagan library to see her. now here we are, a full year later. the bad news is that the virus is still with us. but the good news is that during all this time, the reagan
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foundation developed the ability to go digital. we moved our speaker series online and began producing quality programming for our social media channels in a new and better format. tens of thousands of our supporters have been tuning in to the virtual events we're bringing you, now sometimes two to three times a week. this week we are just thrilled to host our long awaited event with martha, to discuss her book. it's entitled "unknown valor, the story of family, courage, and sacrifice from pearl harbor to iwo jima." it's just now coming out in paperback. to owl of all of our guest whose reserved seats no the original event we scheduled with martha a year ago i have some great news. joining martha in conversation today but her new book is another truly remarkable woman, her feel he fox news host, and
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best selling author herself, dana perino. i can not say enough but dana. we are just blessed to have her with us today to interview martha. two weeks from now we'll turn the table and martha mccallum hosts a conversation with dana perino for her new book titled everything will be okay "pout today is marthas return. >> book this become beer view with author and friend app high, martha mccallum, anchor of the story on fox news and this is her book, unknown valor, it is an amazing read. it came out in february of 2020 and we'll talk about that, the paperback is out and available now. check that out. this is the subtitle, story of family, courage and sacrifice, from pearl harbor to iwo jima. i love books and i read every
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word of this book, martha and loved it and it's one of the booked that has stayed with me me most i have read in recent years. >> thank you. and thank you for talking with me. we love to talk about books and you were so helpful to me when was writing the book. dana was very very first person i gave it to to read and she was so kind. she wasn't right through it, right away, and came bang with some notes -- came back with notes and you're the person that everybody would want to do that because you're so thoughtful. >> early readers here. so, let's go back to -- set the stage how did you decide to write this book and the personal connection you have it to. >> actually was grateful to the editor bus when with started taking about writing a book i told him this story about being a little girl and going up to my grandfather's attic and finding these letters that a had been written by my mother's first husband, harry gray who was killed at iwo jima when he was
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18, and from a young age when i would read these letters they moved me to tears and tears andt imi've beginning to put the time into writing a book i want it to be a book about something i'm going to learn a ton researching, and i spent the next three years researching iwo jima, learning about the battling, traveling to iwo jima and just sort of immersing myself in this one battle from the pacific in world war ii and i learn so much about harry and and i ended up learning a loud about the men who were there with him. >> telephone me about harry. >> he was 18 years old from arlington, massachusetts. he was -- his father died when he was 12 so quickly became the young man of the house. she was very close to his sister and his mother. his mother was my grandpa bo's -- his sister and we were all very close. a pretty small family so i grew up knowing her very well and i always wondered bit the loss she suffered, losing her husband as a young age and then her son
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which was an absolute heartbreaking loss that reverberated through my family and even as little kids my mom, who videos wear close to her cousin harry adored him. he was like a brig brother to her and losing him is something that stayed with her as a child i didn't understand the magnitude. but the older i got and the moring dug into he alerts he realize it why this was such a huge part of her life and her families life. >> the way you structure the book you have the story of the battle of iwo jima, the buildup to to fight in the pacific but you intersperse with stories you learned and if you wouldn't mind telling everybody, one of my -- the stories that sticks with me so much is when they fine out that pearl harbor has been bombed. >> my mom told me also a kid about that day, and she dade we weapon to church and then we were so excited. she and another little girl, financially friend got to howard johnsons and have hot chocolate and we were in the booth and it
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had just arrived. weep crime on top and she was stir, and then she heard something crackling on the radio and all the adult friday in room got nervous and started standing and she remembered her mother grabbing her, he have to go. all heavily is breaking loose. the world just changed in an instant, and she didn't know what was going on. but she remembered that moment for the rest of her life and that changed everything because all of the young men they knew, including harry, he would go a couple of years later because he went to the pacific, it changed their lives forever. >> harry's uncle was your grandfather. >> yes. >> he maps the battle in the basement. tell me how he carefully looked at all of the newspaper articles and was trying to figure out where is harry now. >> i discovered any grandparents attic were perfectly pressed newspapers and he kept the billing headlines from all of
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the major battle and would go through them and in the newspapers there were maps. so he had them on a wall and he had little pins in them and he was following it. he felt strongly that a the war would be ending fairly soon and he hoped that cup too just pass him by as an 18-year-old who hadn't left in 1944. but harry was just bound and determined to good and wanted to serve his country and wanted the adventure he thought he would have. >> left behind a girlfriend. >> he did. >> her name. >> dorothy. she was called dot. and he loved her very much. it was a real teenage love story and i know bat thaws of the men i met through writing the story who were with him. george coburn and charlie when i met enemy independently confirmed hey had a serious girlfriend at home and wanted to mary her and one of the letters read he says at the end of it, it's almost easter, mom, would you please buy dot a corsage.
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i'll pay you back when i get home. and it was -- it's a heartbreaking story of young love. he wanted to marry her before he left home but didn't happen. >> tell me about working with -- a historian and he helped to tell the center a lot of detail -- story in a lot of detail. kept my interest the entire time. >> we go through the battles of the pacific and ron was a captain in vietnam and we traveled together to iwo jima and i wanted to be sure it was militarily sound the way were writing and the did a masterful job of re-telling a lot of the battles in a way that rings true to both veterans and people who were there and then also regular people who are just learning about the stories for the first
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time. he made sure it was militarily sound and i worked hard to make sure it was accessible to people like me. i. >> do you -- maybe that's just me but i might have heard you've say this irfeel like i have read a lot about world war ii in europe. both from a nonfiction perspective and a ton of fiction and great genre for me. love historical fiction but there's not as much written but the pacific. >> there isn't, and i think one reason is that it was -- it's far away, people -- the islands look the same to people, they look also different when you're on them. and people had a familiarity with europe. understood churchill and understood when the bombs were dropping on st. paul's in london. images people were familiar with if. it devastating to see history hitler walking don't the -- the
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pacific was a darker mysterious place, lower understanding of emperor hirohito and news traveled more slowly. the stories took while to get back home but become a great interest-mine. this pacific is a great series for anybody who wants to learn mother bet the period and it's a starting point for me to get that visual on what it all looked like. >> you have documentary you did about through book, unknown valor, and i loved it. one thing i loved, i loved the personal stories so in your research you find and you were able to talk to veterans that served with harry. >> which was amazing. there were 60,000 marines on iwo jima, and i never expected that i would find two people, not just one but two who were with him that day, and one of them. was his dear friend, george coburn, who i thought i one going to find. tried to find him and i had
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marine records for all of the guys in the book' and poured through their -- the documentation of their injuries and everything, point and find anything else on george coburn and towards the very end of writing the book it was just bothering me so much bus there's a scene when he goes swimming on the beach and it's like a beach party. a little break. they've been cooped up on the transit ship and the leadership says go have fun. jump in the water and have a little fun. and it was a moment that was written about by george coburn as he wrote a letter after harry died to my aunt and explained, harry and i went swimming and he was my best friend, all of this, and so i went -- just driving me crazy i was writing about this moment, these beach party and trying to piece it together. i wish i could talk to george, and so i went back to his file again and i found a document that it had never seen before. or i'd come across it but never focus on it and it was a request for his military discharge
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papers and written from melbourne, florida, and had a more recent address for him. so, i immediately started searching ooabout wear -- obituaries and i couldn't find one. so i working with another friend of mine, a dean, who helped me a lot, we -- by 9:00 the next morning we were on the phone with george and when we called him, i said, george, this is martha mackallum i'm hair gray's grand niece and there was this long silence, and he said to me, martha, i think about harry every day hitch was my best friend and he started to cry on then phone, and his wife got upset in the background, she says, george -- they have a great boston accent just like my granddaughter. the said, george, don't talk bit it anymore, and she said he has to go and then i felt terrible
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that maybe we had upset him but we reconnected and he is just one of those wonderful men, the kindest people i've ever met and he was just like so many of these men, he said i've often thought that harry would have lived a better life than i did and it's not true and george has laid hand amazing life. a beautiful family and when they watch this clip at the end you'll meteorology yourself and see his a special man. >> i'm holding this -- my grandfather on my father residents side fought in the pacific as well and you brought back some sand from iwo jima. that trip wasp not easy to pull off. only happens once a year or so. tell us about going there and you were able to bring back a little something for those who had family there that served. but going there what was that like. >> it's quite a trip. you have to get a visa because i
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was doing research and had to get a visa to go to tokyo and iwo jima. it's only available for reporters and family members one day a year. they open the island for six hours, one afternoon, and there's two united flights that go and they basically transit everybody altogether as a group. some of the boom people i went with were veterans who were going back for the first time in their limes. one group with his son and grandson, the three of them traveling together, and he told me amazing stories about what it was like on the island and how forgettenning it was and -- frighten it was was and as an 18-year-old kid rung with his rifle and tripping over limbs and being told to just keep going until the reached the other side. so, it is an extraordinary trip go to guam first and then you supply into iwo jima and as you drop below the lead outside see the mountain which is where the famous flag, raising happened,
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and it's- -- people were chatting, a happy feeling on the plane until we dropped below the clouds and sow the mountain and then it went completely see lent -- silent. this people are markable making the trip and their energy was infectious and i loved the time i spent there. >> let's talk about them. one thing i loved watching after the bang came out was the outpouring of gratitude to you forriting the book and telling the story. you have to read the book to the end because when you've tell the stories about all of the characters that we meet throughout the book, beautiful writing, masterful writing i think, but you hear from them, and you brought -- >> i've kept in touch with a lot of people, charlie and george and i keep in touch over time but one thing is the outpouring of letters from people who wereta general chalet involved
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with the -- tangentially involved with the pacific and some of the letters are sweet and funny. this is leon wallace and said thank you for writing the book. one percentage messengered in your book harry gray remind me of myself and why i file blessed. i'm from a little town and he said i too wanted to go to marines like harry so on my 17th birthday i took the train and enlisted. i was turned bows bait i'm color blind. the japanese would good at camouflage so they needed men who could detect colors. i joined the see bees they were close to like harry it could very well have been me. along with harry. except for being color blind. just wanted to tell you this story but my being a lot like harry. lee wallace. >> that's lovely. >> so sons and members of family
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who bright and send letters they have from loved ones and just wonderful -- this condition is from europe, from the european theater and this young man was written up in be paper bus he told miss family he had b given the bronze star and they gave million a new uniform and new -- him a new uniform and said annual my buddies are happy as me. that's enough office that but two years ago when i was train neglect states he never thought this would happen to me, i'd be knocking out german machine guesses and gets decorations for it so i haven't done too badly as a soldier. all the ceremonies mean a lot to a fellow and make him happy butting in makes me anymore happy when i get back there on walnut street with the family, having good times. to there never well by a place nicer. i'm sending the bronze star
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methodol to you mom and dad. you can have it. i oyou a lot and maybe some day i can help you out. never be able to do for you what you have done for me. oomph always thinking of you, tell everyone if said hello. be good and god bless always, your son art. so i'm so horde actually by -- honored by the letters that. peep send me and i read them all and have a big box at home and a lot of them move me to tears which is not hard to do. >> you asked your children to read them and i thought, this generation of world war ii veterans, many of them in their 90s now, were losing their memories, you have helped solidify the memories. you have met the veterans and what are their characteristics of that generation that stick out to you. >> i think you can hear it in that letter. it's the humility. i think that's the word that describes them more than
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anything. they want -- the love their country and want to serve their country, wanted to beat back the enemy that threatened our way of life. no one is more responsible for the life we live right now than the veterans of world war ii because we would have lived a very different life. so i think the humility you hear the letter where he is so happy and proud he has been able to do all of these heroic things but just wants to get home and be with everybody and the other thing that is a common thread is that pain of having survived. a lot of survivor guilt and thinking but the other men that didn't survive. a good friend now who was 16, drove a higgins both on at the island of wean at age of 16. it hit an obstruction and they lost 14 men on his boat and the steering wheel cut interest his sternum and he was taken to the
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hospital but he said the guys i lost he said sometimes i dream that i see them and i want them to come to life for just the weekend. just want to give them the weekend so they can live like i did. got to have a wife and children i just want them to have a little taste but then they have to back. >> president george h.w. bush was the same. he said that never a day went by when he didn't think of the men that were lost and unfortunately he had that accident there that was shot done. say so, you're a student of history, obviously, and the people watching here, the great reagan library, love history. is there another period of history you're interested in thatout -- i know this is a big project. do you have another project. >> i am becoming more interested in the korean war. think it's another area that is not written about a lot. and i'm just sort of beginning
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to learn a little bit more about that. so that's definitely a time period that intrigues me as well and we're getting to o'pound where those men are getting on in years and i think we need to understand a little bit more but their sacrifice. i also was just so impacted myself by 9/11, just living in this area, and i think that's another time period that i want -- one of my biggest motivators was my kids and wanting them to document this story of our family and other families and that's one of he reason its pull the letters out and read them to kids at dinner because i want them to hear these amazing letters but i feel like 9/11 is far enough way we need to be reminded the sacrifices people made with no intention other than just going to work. >> you named your son harry. >> i. i always loved the name harry
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gray and i never knew him obviously, but i wanted that name to carry on and i think it was -- i know it made my mother very happy and his sister who is still alive to have someone named for him because he lived such a short life to nice to have that continue on and harry loved the book. >> you're amazing anchor of the story. a tremendous story. i couldn't recommend this book enough. it stuck with me and my husband he read it loves world war ii history and he wrote to martha and said this -- >> is wear nervous because i know peter is world war ii buff so i thought i hope he likes it. >> your book couple out right the beginning of the pandemic so you weren't able to travel for book tours but maybe you can get out to the reagan library. >> i would love to do that and be with everybody there. a fantastic spot. so i do hope that maybe we can
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do something in person sometime but i'm 0 happy -- >> i'd love to join you there. >> thank you so much. >> booktv with the latest mon fiction books and authors, funding comes from these television companies who support c-span 2 as a public service. >> tonight on booktv in prime time. financial analyst carry and linda killinger argue that the u.s. government some implement policies reprinting a repeat of the 2008 recession. law professor green looks at america's approach to individual rights and offers thoughts on how oh build a better system of justice. philosophy professor talk about
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free speech and the free exchange of ideas. and democratic senator tammy duckworth of illinois reflects on her life and career in the military and the u.s. senate. that all started at 7:00 p.m. eastern tonight. find more schedule information at booktv doering door. ...

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