To Reach Yonder
To Reach Yonder
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In Eli Camaganacan’s life story we find rare and valuable things: the details of an often forgotten dimension of World War II, and an overview of the ongoing life of a human being–one lived with energy, courage, intelligence, curiosity, compassion, humor, honor and spiritual values. Mr. Camaganacan is too modest to call himself a hero, but anyone reading the account of his participation in World War II could hardly call him anything else. Not once, but on a number of occasion, he put himself in grave personal danger in the performance of his duty in military service, and out of his sense of human decency and compassion, once saving the lives of many wounded soldiers who would otherwise have been left behind to die. Some actual part of the success of U.S. forces in the Philippines is due to intelligence work Mr. Camaganacan engaged in to help shorten the conflict and assure victory for the United States. He came close to losing his life for his loyalty and integrity. Mr. Camaganacan gives us history through the human dimension. He remembers and recounts much of his psychological and mental processes during the unfolding episodes he tells about. We have the rare privilege of experiencing things from the inside, through him. We know not only factual details of growing up in the Philippines before World War II, but what this felt like in the emotional and mental body of one boy. We know in the round what it was like to dig a foxhole in the dark with a bayonet, to survive bombing raids, to survive a concentration camp, to return to civilian life as distinguished and productive, to move to a new country and establish a life for yourself there. This is the wealth Mr. Camaganacan lays at our feet. As a storyteller, Mr. Camaganacan has a natural feeling for drama and for detail. He draws his reader in deeply, creating the scene with such vividness we cannot forget it. He has an instinctive feeling for gripping material; at the same time, we can learn step by step how to stalk game, build traps, and any number of the useful things the writer mastered in living. The reader will find him or herself re-telling these stories, as I have. This writer paints a picture with such truth and accuracy, the mind never forgets. It is edifying to know that Northeastern Illinois University recognizes this kind of work, work telling of the fullness of a human life, such as we all desire to live. Mr. Camaganacan’s story tells of an ordinary man living his life in an extraordinary way. We hope we all live our lives this way, taking hold of the opportunities destiny offers, as Mr. Camaganacan has. This is work we want younger generations to see. This is work that needs to be available to students doing research on war, immigration, family values, English as a second language, the Philippines, and any number of other topics. It has been an enormous privilege and pleasure to read it. Zoe Keithley Master of Arts/Teaching of Writing Writing Specialist, Chicago Teachers’ Center College of Education, Northeastern Illinois University August 28, 1998

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