Today in History
History's Happenings for April 9
Bataan Day remembers the defeat of American forces on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines, in April, 1942, as the Japanese charged through the Pacific in the opening days of World War II. The last Americans under General Jonathan Wainwright had retreated to the island fortress of Corregidor, to continue the hopeless fight, and from there issued the following message on this day:
"Bataan has fallen, but the spirit that made it stand, a beacon to all liberty-loving people of the world, cannot fall."
A short while later Corregidor, too, fell to the Japanese, and the ill-famed "Bataan Death March" began as the Japs led the captured Americans to inland prison camps. Many were brutalized and died along the way.
Commanding General Douglas MacArthur had been ordered by President Roosevelt to quit Bataan before its fall and proceed, by PT boat and submarine, to Australia. Upon reaching the Commonwealth, he made his famous "I shall return!" promise. That promise was fulfilled with the massive Philippine invasion of October, 1944.
Wainwright, weak and fragile from years in Jap prison camps, was subsequently honored by MacArthur during the Japanese surrender ceremony in September, 1945.
Also known as Holy Thursday, Maundy Thursday commemorates Christ's Last Supper with His disciples on the eve before His death on the cross. The name comes from the Latin mandatum, commandment.
In England, the sovereign traditionally distributes alms to the poor on this day, a custom which derives from Christ's washing of His disciples' feet in an act of love and charity. The Catholic Maundy liturgy still includes the ceremonial washing of twelve members' feet.
Most denominations celebrate Maundy Thursday to one degree or another, usually with an evening service that includes Holy Communion.
Maundy marks a significant milestone in Christianity's holiest season, which extends from Lent through Easter Sunday, three days hence.