Subic Bay: The Real Last Frontier

Toward the end of the 19th century, the historian, Frederick Jackson Turner, published his famous “Frontier Thesis” which stated that America, and our unique form of democracy, was shaped by the moving frontier line and the impact it had on pioneers as they moved ever westward.

He felt that the frontier had shaped American character, along with “egalitarianism, a lack of interest in ‘high culture,’ and violence.”

It follows, then, that one could make a case for the proposition that California was the “last frontier” in America, at least on the contiguous mainland.

It is my feeling, however, that the last American frontier was actually the Philippine Islands. Let me explain, but first some background.

Last time, I wrote that I went to parachute school because I had orders to the Marine Corps. As it turned out, I never made it to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  At the last minute, I was reassigned to a ship in the far eastern Pacific to relieve an officer who had suffered a nervous breakdown.

I was up for it; however, my subsequent trek to the far East was not my first, neither literally nor metaphorically.  Although I had previously served on ships west of Hawaii, I had, as a youthful reader in Mississippi, much earlier bought into the myth of boundless opportunity in the western United States,  what others more learned than I would  recognize  as Manifest Destiny and the golden promise of California and beyond.

While Horace Greely, the founder and editor of the New York Tribune, which became the highest-circulating newspaper in the country through weekly editions sent by mail, popularized the slogan, “Go West, young man, and grow with the country,” early Americans never needed much incentive to push the frontier further and further westward.

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