Textual Analysis of a Japanese POW Survivor
TITLE OF TEXTUAL PRIMARY SOURCE? In which language?: “Byron C. Gordon”. In English.
OWNERS/INSTITUTION: Minco Historical Society
TYPE OF TEXTUAL PRIMARY SOURCE: Short autobiographical account.
UNIQUE PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DOCUMENT: One word is scored out because it was illegible to the person who transcribed his letter. Also, a photo of the author is present.
DATE OF DOCUMENT: 1990
AUTHOR OF THE DOCUMENT: Byron C. Gordon, Pacific theater POW. Private First Class, 1st Separate Marine Battalion, Company B, Battery A.
FOR WHICH AUDIENCE WAS THE DOCUMENT WRITTEN: Residents of Minco, Oklahoma
KEY INFORMATION ABOUT THIS TEXTUAL PRIMARY SOURCE
A) THREE THINGS THAT ARE IMPORTANT:
a. “I was captured and was a prisoner of the Japanese for three years and eight months.”
b. “I had been beaten, kicked and almost starved to death. I normally weigh 205 pounds. When I was freed I weighed 90 pounds.”
c. “I am very proud to have been of service to this wonderful country.”
B) WHY WAS IT WRITTEN: This text was written as a letter to be included in a historical compilation of this particular town (Minco, OK) and the residents who lived in it. The local historical society compiled it due to the increased aging of the population to preserve the fading history.
C) WHAT EVIDENCE HELPS YOU KNOW WHY IT WAS WRITTEN: The presence of the document in a Minco history book leads me to believe it was written to educate the townspeople. Especially since this was an explanation of his life (starting with “I was born…”), it further emphasizes this was simply a retelling of his history for future generations to read.
D) LIST TWO THINGS THAT TELL YOU ABOUT THE LIFE IN THE PLACE IT WAS WRITTEN: It tells me about the life he led before the war and how it contrasts with life during the war, especially with the brief description of the atrocities he faced. But it also tells me how he moved on after the war and how he attempted to cope with the horrific memories by marrying and having children, as many survivors would later do.
E) WRITE A QUESTION FOR AUDIENCES TODAY THAT IS UNANSWERED: Why do people not talk about the POWs of the Pacific theater more, especially when there are some people, like Byron C. Gordon, willing to be open about it in a book?
Dani Hurley (relative of Byron C. Gordon), University of Oklahoma, 2/27/2019