It is impossible to watch this series without tearing up at what these men went through. "War is hell" may have become something of a cliché, but every once in awhile we need to be reminded that what may be a cliché for those of us who never had to experience that horror, may well be a truth for those who do. With our armed forces fighting even now, it is a reminder clearly of the moment.
The series doesn't shy away from some of the philosophical questions raised by war. For example, there is a discussion in the fifth episode between the newly arrived Sledge and the more veteran Leckie on the question of evil in a world created by a just God. The question of ends justifying means is raised when a soldier loses it in the middle of the night, begins screaming, and needs to be silenced before he gives away their position. They also need to deal with an enemy trying to kill them even as they tend his wounds. There is even some implied explanation and justification of the use of a nuclear bomb to end the war.
War brutalizes everyone involved in it, and the series doesn't sugar coat the brutal behaviors of either side. We are shown how the Japanese used civilians as shields on Okinawa, and how, for example they turned one woman and her baby into a human bomb. But we are also shown marines digging gold teeth out of the mouths of dead Japanese soldiers. We see them taking pot shots at an enemy soldier who seems to be surrendering. While these things are not quite morally equivalent, they do suggest that there is inhumane behavior on both sides.
Still when all is said and done The Pacific is most importantly a testament to the self-effacing courage of the marines that fought and died for their country. One extra included in the DVD is a set of profiles of some of the men featured in the film. Friends and relatives talk about them. Those still living talk about themselves and the others. They explain what it was like to be there and how it felt to come home. To a man, they declined to call themselves heroes; to a man they questioned why they were the ones that made it out alive. To a man they talk about the nightmares that still haunt them after fifty years. It is to the series' credit that their service and the sacrifice of those who didn't make it home are never trivialized; they are presented with honesty and integrity.