This post is a tribute to my father, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Albert E. Ronzoni, who fought in “The Pacific” during World War II. This is for you Dad!
A NEW APPROACH TO SCREENINGS IN ASSOCIATION WITH
HBO’s 10-PART MINISERIES EVENT “THE PACIFIC”
The War in The Pacific has special meaning to me. My father, Albert Ronzoni, was drafted out of high school by the U.S. Army to serve his country in World War II fighting the Japanese. This intelligent, scholarly, 5’11″ kid from a small Northern Minnesota town was thrust through boot camp and shipped off to remote islands in the Pacific. During his stint in the war, he fought battles in Saipan, Tinian, Espiritu Santo, Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands, before contracting malaria a month prior to his discharge.
He was a quiet mild man, who loved to garden and play hockey, football and curling. He never fought nor shot a gun upon entering the Army. He left a town where everyone knew each other’s names to fighting an enemy half a world away. This experience affected him the rest of his life, and not in a good way.
Today, HBO is premiering the most expensive television event to date – the 10-part miniseries “The Pacific” – Steven Spielberg and Tom Hank’s WWII companion piece to HBO’s “Band of Brothers.” I cannot begin to applaud HBO enough on greenlighting this important endeavor and forever documenting this historic period of war. “Band of Brothers” was one of the most memorable series I have ever witnessed and now, with the debut of “The Pacific,” it will prove once again to be TV like we’ve never seen before.
I’ve known for several years that Spielberg and Hanks were embarking on this second theater of war, and was pleased for I wanted to learn more about what my Dad went through to make him who he was. For you see, I have always felt my Dad was a shell of a man. I always thought I didn’t have my full Dad with me – it was just a sense I had and you sure couldn’t tell that from meeting him. After the war, he still was a quiet man who loved to garden, but he held himself back from accepting love, joy and happiness. I think the war took that out of him, sadly way before I was ever born.
It is because of this belief I contacted HBO to present an idea I had about an innovative approach for affiliate screenings. Here’s the idea I sent them on December 1, 2009.
“Thank you so very much for taking time today to discuss a community-led “The Pacific” screening and support group. As mentioned, I have recently become aware that veterans suffer more than we know. If not physically wounded from combat, they have been emotionally scarred from war. As a daughter of a WWII Staff Sergeant, I can attest to the fact that the war affected my dad and his ability to form trusting and loving relationships, partly due to his experiences I’m sure fighting in the first wave of offense in the Pacific. Although, the screening that I am presenting is a bit revolutionary for affiliate relations-HBO will reap tremendous goodwill for their efforts and more importantly, HBO will be a part of healing soldiers.
I recently was informed by a crisis counselor that veterans receive effective healing in large groups. As such, how great would it be if organizations opened their doors to invite the vets in from their community for weekly screenings of HBO’s “The Pacific.” As with any support group like AA, these “The Pacific” screenings would be private – for vets – only. It would be their safe place – their sanctuary if you will – to talk about their experiences with those who walked the same path. After each screening, the vets could break up into smaller groups and answer (3) questions. And, if needed, counseling would be available to them and if at a church, then prayer is some requested that. But, it could be a place where they could talk and get their stories out. My dad held his pain in his entire life – he never told his daughters what he saw. He didn’t want us to know about what he faced at 18 years of age. God bless him for that.