While the above photo may look like trying to undo some of Bush's neglect, it's actually from a three-pronged article in the LATimes about the Stilwell Road, the modern view of the road by India and China, and one old Veteran's memories of the racism involved in building it. Well worth a read.
More than 1,100 American troops died building the road in what is now Myanmar. Today China and some in India see the long-neglected route as their lifeline.
Evelio Grillo is one of the few vets still alive to tell the tale of the Stilwell Road.
Grillo also tells of boneheaded officers who ordered him to measure the road with lengths of chain for hours on end until someone finally pointed out that the Army jeeps had odometers.
Why do I have no trouble at all believing that? Similar experiences with officers, no doubt.
More than half a century later, China now is working to resurrect it as the first major overland trade route since World War II with India, where business leaders, politicians and bureaucrats also are pressing their government to formally commit itself to the road as a link between the world's two most populous nations.
The road's western end, close to the Indian state of Assam, has been swallowed up by the jungle, and portions of it can be traveled only on foot. In the east, the upgraded section near the Chinese border is busy, but most of the traffic consists of small traders and tourists on short visits to gamble, or to see transsexual burlesque shows in Myanmar.
Yeah, that's my idea of the dream vacation too...
Squeezing the hand of his son and namesake, California Superior Court Judge Evelio M. Grillo, the old vet smiles at the memories of winning enough poker pots from his war buddies in Burma to buy his mom a house in Tampa, Fla.
But he'd rather forget most of his two years at war. Grillo had to suffer the indignities of racial segregation on the 58-day passage to India aboard the Santa Clara, where the only comforts were reserved for the white officers.
Grillo remembers most of them as vulgar racists, and wrote in his memoir, "Black Cuban, Black American," that the road builders assumed that the white men giving them orders in Southern drawls had been selected because they were "deemed to know how to handle black men."
The black GIs had to bunk in the ship's windowless, foul-smelling hold, stewing in the "stench cooked up by the sweat, the farts and the vomit of 200 men," he recalled in the memoir.
Been there, done that. And then the ship left the dock...
The men who built the road weren't honored for their feat until 2004, when the Defense Department marked African American History Month at Florida A&M University.
Figures. Enjoy, if such is the correct word, the rest.