This is a story not just of my grandfather, Frederick B. "Ted" Howden Jr., but of the collective memory of a generation of Americans at war - and the inherited grief of their families.
The film explores one of the cornerstones of modern American (indeed World) history through the experience of one man and his family.
Historically much attention has been paid to the events in Europe during World War II, Pearl Harbor and subsequently the dropping of the atomic bombs. What is rarely known is the state of New Mexico lost more men per capita than any state in the Union. The men from New Mexico who went to the Philippines were left to fight the Japanese with leftover WWI artillery and supplies. For better or for worse, the United States government left them to fend for themselves while it focused all of its resources on the European theater. For the most part, the men in the Philippines did not die in battle. Rather after the surrender (on April 6, 1948 — the largest army to surrender in U.S. History) they died on what has come to be known as The Bataan Death March and in prison camps thereafter.
My grandfather who was 40 years old at the time, survived the death march and died a year later in prison camp of diseases associated with malnutrition. His actions during this time lead the Southwest Diocese of the Episcopal Church to Canonize him noting the day of his death — December 11th as his day on the church calendar.
The film uses my grandfather's letters as it's map, tracing his steps and explores his sacrifices and the resulting familial sediment. While my grandfather is the heart of the story he is not the entire story. The story is about a family, a culture, a war, and what remains in the end. It is about war, faith and sacrifice.
This Lyrical testament touches a universal nerve in its exploration of war and devotion, love and loss, family myth and patrimony.
- Zoe Elton, Director of Programming, Mill Valley Film Festival, Mill Valley, California 2012