Brothers Fought On Opposite Sides of the War

December 22, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
1. veteran (n.) [vet-er-uhn, ve-truhn] – a person who served in the military
Example: The veteran showed the scars he got in the war.   

2. greener pastures (idiom) [green-uhr] [pas-chers, pahs-] – a better situation, especially in employment
Example: Many scientists seek greener pastures abroad because of the lack of opportunities back home.
3. thwart (v.)  [thwawrt]  – to prevent (someone) from doing something or to stop (something) from happening
Example: In the movie, the villain’s plan to take over the world was thwarted by the hero.

4. poignant (adj.) [poin-yuhnt, poi-nuhnt] – causing a strong feeling of sadness
Example: The poignant ending of Romeo and Juliet made my sister cry.     

5. animosity (n.) [an-uh-mos-i-tee]  – a feeling of strong dislike that tends to display itself in action
Example: Even though years have gone by, there is still animosity between the two rivals.

Read the text below.

The Oka brothers' story during the Second World War proves that even war cannot destroy the bond of family.

All seven Oka brothers served as soldiers on opposite sides of the war between the US and Japan. For these veterans, the memories of the war remain vivid.

The Oka brothers were second-generation Japanese-Americans born to native Japanese parents, who operated a migrant labor hotel in California. After the business failed, the whole family went back to Japan.

In the 1930s, three of the brothers—Isao, Masao, and Don—returned to the US in search of greener pastures. However, the war broke out in 1941, thwarting the brothers’ dreams once again.

Isao, Masao, and Don were eventually recruited to the US Military Intelligence Service as language specialists. Back home, their two younger brothers, Teiji and Takeo, served for the Japanese navy and army, while the youngest ones, Ted and Dan, were spared because of their age. However, after the war, Ted and Dan came back to the US as American citizens and later served for the US in the Korean War.

One of Don Oka's poignant memories of the war involves a crossfire encounter with one of his brothers. While stationed in Tinian Islands, Japanese planes—the ones piloted by Don’s brother, Takeo—ambushed Don’s troop. Don remembers running for cover as bullets from planes came shooting towards them. After the war, he found out that his brother Takeo was shot down after returning to base.

His other brother, Teiji, also died in the war after his ship sailing towards Okinawa was attacked and sunk by American planes in 1945. Teiji incurred wounds that caused his death several years later.

Though Don dislikes the war for causing animosity and tearing families apart, he is proud of all his brothers' achievements. He says they were just called to do the job, and they did it.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
Discussion A

·         How do you think the government can show its gratitude toward war veterans?
·         How do you think war affects a person’s attitude?

Discussion B

·         If you were in a similar situation as the Oka brothers, would you still fight in the war even if you know you have brothers on the opposing side?
·          How important is family in your culture?

December 22, 2011