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tv   Martha Mac Callum Unknown Valor  CSPAN  April 24, 2021 11:30am-11:56am EDT

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tonight after words, washington post staff writer reports and john boehner in his time in congress and the future of the republican party. also sunday journalist amanda shares thoughts on how people can engage in healthy conflict resolution. that's all this weekend on book tv. find more scheduling information at booktv.org or consult your program guide. ♪ ♪ >> about 2 years ago we heard the news that martha maccallum, talented anchor and show host at fox news was possibly writing a book. that fact caught our eye because we are always on the lookout for authors of important books who can join us for our speaker series at the reagan library.
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so needless to say, we were really pleased when we learned that it was true. martha was in the thick ofe, writing what was certain to be a best-selling book. one that was about the heroism of american soldiers during the battle of hiroshima and fortune ensmiled at us and joined us at the reagan library to discuss her book. of course, at the time it took 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
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see her. now heree 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 of this time, the reagan 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 are bringing you now 2 co3 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, story from sack mice from pearl harbor to hiroshima. it's just coming out in paperback. to all of our guests that reserved seats for the original
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event we had scheduled with martha a year ago, i have some great news. joiningg martha in conversation today about her new book is another truly remarkable woman, her fellow fox news host and best-sellingng author herself da perino. i cannot say enough about dana. we are just blessed to have her with us today to interview martha. two weeks from now, we will turn the table, for that program martha macallum host with dana perino for dana's book titled everything will be okay but today is martha's turn and we couldn't be more excited. let's join in their conversation. >> welcome to this book interview with author and friend of mine martha maccallum, anchor of the story on fox news. this is her book. ununknown valor. it is an amazing read. it came out in february of 2020. we will talk about all of that.
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the paper book is out and available now. this is the subtitled. story of family, courage and sacrifice from pearl harbor to hiroshima. i readbo every word of this boo, i loved it. it's one of the books that has stayed with me the most that i have read in the -- recent years. >> thank you, thank you for talking with me, dana. you and i love to talk about books and you were so helpful to me when i was writingu this boo. dana was thee first person thati gave it to to read it and she -- she was so kind, she went right through it, right away and came back with some notes. i mean, you are absolutely the person that -- that everybody would want to do that because you're so thoughtful. >> trusted early readers here. okay, so let's go back to set the stage for everybody for how did you decide to write this book and the personal connection you have to it. >> i actually was grateful to the editor because when we
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started talking about writing a book, i started telling him the story about being a little girl and going to my grandfather's attic and finding the letters that had been written by my mother's first cousin harry gray who wasri killed at hiroshima wn he was 18. from a young age when i would read the letters they moved me to tears. i thought if i'm going to put the time in writing a book, i want it to be a book about something that i'm going to learn a ton researching and i spent the next 3 years researching hiroshima, learning about the battle. traveling to hiroshima and sort of immersing myself in this one battle from the pacific from world war ii and i learned so much about harry and not only that. i ended up learning a lot about the men who were there with him. >> tell me a little bit about harry. >> so he was 18 year's old from arlington, massachusetts. he was -- his father died when he was 12. he quickly became sort of the young man of theso house. he was very close to his sister and his mother.
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his mother was my -- my grandpa bo's, his sister. i grew up knowing her very well and i wondered about the loss she suffered losing her husband at a young age and then her son which was an absolute heartbreaking loss that sort of reverberated through my family and even as little kids. my mom who wased close to her cousin harry, adored him. he was like a big brother to her. and losing him was something that stayed with her for the rest of her life. as a child, i didn't understand the magnitude of it. you don't really feel those things when you're little but the older i got and the older i dug into the letters i realized why this was such a huge part of her life and her family's life. >> the way you structure the book, you havee the story of the battle of hiroshima, the fight in the pacific. stories that you remember from your childhood or researched and learned and if you wouldn't mind telling everybody, one of the stories that sticks with me so much is when they find out that
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pearl harbor has been bombed. >> i remember my mom telling me as a kid about that day and we went to church, she was so excited, she and family friend they got to go to howard johnson and had hot chocolate. it had just arrived with whip creme and she could smell it and is stirring it to cool it off and heard something crackling on the radio and all of the adults in the room got nervous and starting standing up and putting coats on. she remember her mother grabbing her by the wrists, we have to go. the world changed in an instant but didn't know what was going on. all of the young men that they knew including harry, he would go a couple of later because he went to the pacific and changed their lives forever. >> harry's uncle, that's your grandfather. ty maps the battle in the
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basement. tell me about that and how he carefully looked at the newspapers and where is harry now. >> all of the perfectly pressed newspapers and he kept the big headlines from all of the major battles and would go through them all and they were these maps. he had them on a wall and had pins and he did not want harry to go. he felt strongly that the war was going to be ending fairly soon and he sort of hoped that could pass him t by as 18-year-d who hadn't left in 1944. harry was bound and determined to go like all young men and he wanted to serve his country. >> he left behind a girlfriend. >> he did. her name was dorothy. she was called dot and he loved her very much. it was a real teenage love story and i know that because of the men that i met through writing this story who were with him.
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george colbert and charlie, when i met them, both confirmed, he had a really serious girl at home and want today marry her and one of the letters that i read, he says at the end of it, it's almost easter, would you buy dot a corsage, i will pay for it when i get home. it's a heartbreaking story of young love. he want today marry her because he left home but that didn't happen. >> tell me about working with ron, historian and helps tell the story in a lot of detail. to the point where it kept my interest the entire time. >> so we go through the battle of the pacific and, you know, ron was a captain of vietnam, a war historian and he and i traveled together to hiroshima. he knows the battle inside and out. and i wanted to be sure that it was militarily sound the way we were writing about all of the battles and he did a masterful job of retelling a lot of the
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battles in a way that rings true to both veterans and people who were there and then also, you know, regular people who were just learning about the stories for the first time. he was absolutely integral in making sure that it was militarily sound and i worked hard to make sure that it was accessible to a people like me. >> do you -- do -- maybe this is just me. i've actually heard you say this. i feel like i have read a lot about world war ii in europe. both from nonfiction perspective and a ton of fiction. great genre for me, i love historical fiction of that period but not as much written about the pacific. >> there isn't. one of the reasons is that it's far away. people -- the islands look the same to people that weren't there. they actually look different when you're on them. and people had a familiarity with europe. they understood churchill. they understood when the bombs were dropping on st. pauls in london, those were images that people were familiar with, it
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was devastating to see hitler marchs down and made people wonder, is that going to happen on fifth avenue in new york city. it could have. that's where this wasou headed t the pacific was just a darker more mysterious place. there was a lower understanding of emperor herhito and news traveled more slowly. the stories took a while to get back home but it's become, you know, just a great interest of mine. i think the pacific is a great series for anybody who wants to learn more about this period and it sort of was a starting point for me to get the visual on what it all looked like. >> so you have a documentary that you did, unknown valor. and i loved it. one of the things i loved. i loved the personal stories n. your research you find and able to talk to veterans that served with harry. >> which was amazing. there were 60,000 marines on hiroshima and i never expected that i would find 2 people, not
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just one but two who were with him that day. and one of them was his dear friend george coburn who i thought i was going to find him. i had marine records for all of the guys in the book and poured through the injury -- documentation of their injuries, everything. and i couldn't find anything else on george coburn. towards the end of writing the book, it was just bothering me so much because there's a scene when they go swimming on the beach and it's like a beach party, a break they've been cooped up on the transit ship across the pacific and the leadership says, you know what, guys, go have fun, jump in the water and have fun. a moment that was written about by george coburn as he wrote a letter after harry died to my aunt and explained, you know, harry and i went swimming, he was my best friend. all of this and so i went -- it was driving me crazy that i was writing about this moment, this beach party and trying to piece it together based on what i knew. i wished i could talk to george.
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i went back to file again and i found a document that i had never seen before. i had come across it but i never focused on it and it was a request for i military discharge papers but it was written from melbourne, florida after he moved from massachusetts and had more recent address for him that i had never seen before. i immediately started searching obituaries in florida. i continue find one. working with another friend of mine, dean, great researcher who helped me a lot, we -- by 9:00 o'clock the next morning we were on the phone with george. and when we called him, i said, george, this is martha maccallum great grand niece. he said, martha, i think about harry every day. he was my best friend and he started the cry on the phone.
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and his wife got upset, you know, in the background. they have a great boston accent. george, don't talk about it anymore. and she said, he has to go and then i felt terrible that maybe we had upset him but we reconnected a couple of days letter. he's one of the wonderful men i had ever met and kindest people i had ever met and just like so many of the men, he said i often thought that harry would have lived a better life than i did and it's just not true. george has lived an amazing life and has a beautiful family that i got to meet through this and when they all watched the clip at the end, you will meet george yourself and you will see he's a special man. >> i'm holding this, martha brought back -- my grandfather on my father's side fought in the pacific as well. you brought sand from hiroshima. i think it only happened once a year or so. tell us a little bit about going
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there and you were able to bring back a little something for those of us who had family there thatet served. going there, what was that like? >> it's quite a trip. you have to get a visa because i was working there. i was doing research. i had to get a visa to go to ettokyo and it's only available for reporters, family members one day a year. they open the island for about 6 hours, one afternoon. there's two united flights that go and they basically transit everybody altogether asat a gro. some of the people that i went with were veterans who were going back to the island for the first time in their lives. it was very emotionalment one group, son and grandson, the three of them traveling together and told me amazing stories what it was like in the island and how frightening and how terrified and running with his rifle and tripping over limbs
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and being told to keep going until hee reached the other sid. you go to guam first and you fly into hiroshima. and you start to see where the famous flag raising. everybody chatting on the plane and it was a happy feeling on the plane until we drop below the clouds and we saw and went completely silent. the men are so remarkable in their 90's making the trip and their energy was just infectious and i absolutely loved the time that i got to spend with them. >> let's talk about some of them because one of the things i loved watching after the book came out was the outpouring of gratitude to you for writing the book and for telling the story. you have to read the book. all the way to the end because when you tell the stories about all of the characters that we meet throughout the book, it's just beautiful writing. masterful writing, i think, you hear from them and you --
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>> aye kept in touch with a lot of people, charlie, george coburn, i keep in touch overtime. one thing that's remarkable outpouring of letters of people who were tangently involved. he said, thank you for writing this book, i write because one perp, harry gray reminds me of myself. i'm from ad. little town in hudson, new york. he said i too wanted to go to the marines like harry. i took the train to albany and enlisted and i was turned down because i was color blind. they needed men who could detect colors. they figured i would be dead. they were close like harry it could have very well been me
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along with harry except for being color blind. i just wanted to tell you the story of my being a lot like harry, lee wallace. >> lovely. >> so, you know, even from sons and members of families who write and just send the letters that they have from their loved ones as well and just wonderful, this account is actually from europe, from the european theater and this young man was written up in the paper because he had wrote, he tells parents how excited it was and beautiful ceremony and they gave him a new uniform and bronze star and new shoes. all my buddies in the troop commander are as happy as me. enough of that, but two years ago when i was training in the states i never thought this would happening to me. i haven't done too badly as a soldier. all the ceremonies mean to a fellow and makeot them happy but nothing will make me anymore
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happy than when i get back on good old walnut street with the family having the good times all over again. there never will be a place nicer. i am sending the bronze star medal to you, mom and you, dad, you can haveal it. i certainly owe you a lot and maybe some day i can help you out. i will never be able to do what you have done for me. i always thinking of you, tell everyone i said hello, be good and god bless always your loving art. fromom the blooms pennsylvania press. i want everyone to knowed that i read them all and i have a big box of them at home and a lot of them move me to tears which is not hard to do. >> you ask your children to read them. in the time that we have remaining, this generation of world war ii veterans, many of them are in their 90's now, they are losing their memories. you helped solidify the
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memories. you met so many veterans and what are the characteristics of the generation that stick out to you? >> i think you can hear it in the letter. it's humility. that's the word that describes them more than anything. they want to serve their country and wanted to beat back the enemy that threatened our way of life. no one is more responsible for the life that we live right now than the veterans of world war ii because we would have lived a different life. the humility in the letter, he just wants to get home and be with everybody and the other thing that is always a common thread is is that pain of having survived. there's a lot of survivor's guilt and thinking about the other men that didn't survive. ro, good friend, he was 16.
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hid obstruction under the water which would clear the night before. one of them they missed and hit -- the boat hit and they lost 14 men on the boat and the steering wheel basically caught into the strernum and taken to the hospital. the guys that i lost. sometimes i dream that i see them and i want them to come to life for just the weekend. i just want to give them the weekend and so they can live like i did. he said i got to have a wife and children and i just want them to have a taste of it but then they have to go back because i want to stay here. >> president george h w. bush was the same. never a day went by when he didn't think of men lost. unfortunately he had the accident that was shot down. okay, so you're a student of history obviously. the people watching here, the great reagan library love history. is there another period of history you're interested in that you might like i know this is a bigig project.
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do you have another project? >> you know, i'm becoming more interested in the korean war. i think it's another area that's not written about a lot and i'm just sort of beginning to learn a little bit more about that, so that's definitely a time period that intrigues me as well. and i think we are getting to the point where a lot of those men are also getting in years and we need to understand more about their sacrifice. a few things that i'm poking around at. i also was just so impacted myself by 9/11, just living in this area and i think that that's another time period that i want -- one of my biggest motivators for writing the book was my kids and wanting them to document this story of our family and other families and, you know, that's one of the reasons that i do probe letters out and read them in dinner once in a while because i want them to hear from amazing people. i feel like it's getting far enough away that we need to be reminded of the sacrifice that
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those people made with no intention other than just going to work in the morning that day. >> you named your son harry. >> i did. yeah. >> what was that like? >> you know, i always loved the name harry gray and i never knew him obviously. but i wanted that name to carry on and i think -- i know it made my mother very happy and his sister who is still alive to have someone named for him because he has had short life. it's nice to continue on and harry loved the book. it definitely hit home for him. >> you're amazing anchor of the story and told a tremendous story. i couldn't recommend this book enough. as i said it stuck with me. my husband, peter mcman. >> he's a world war ii, i hope lhe likes --
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>> the book came right in the middle of the pandemic. you weren't able to travel in book tours but maybe get to reagan library. >> i hope so. i would love to do that at some point and be with everybody there and such a fantastic spot and i hope that we can do something in person some time. >> i would love to join you there. >> that would be so fun. >> thank you so much. ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> here is a look at some of the best-selling nonfiction books according to harvard bookstore in cambridge, massachusetts, topping the is pulitzer-prize winning officer isabel, hidden cast system in the united states. after that is empire of pain, new yorker staff writer patrick keith's report on the family's wealth that was built on pharmaceuticals which included valium and oxycotin and next fulfillment followed by philip and wrapping up some of the best-selling books according to harvard bookstore, the university of virginia professor with thoughts of subtraction, some have appeared on book

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