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How a movie helped me understand sacrifice

How a movie helped me understand sacrifice

It’s often the most unexpected events that have the biggest impact

Memorial Day is always a bittersweet holiday for me. I enjoy having a day to partake in BBQ and beer (Texas BBQ though, not what Yanks call “BBQ”), while wearing my favorite, ratty, American flag t-shirt and watching war movies.

As much as I love reflecting on this brilliant country a bunch of old dudes created a couple hundred years ago, there is a weight that lies heavy on my heart on days like Memorial Day. It’s the simple reminder that freedom is never free. Our freedom comes at inestimable price. More often than not, that debt is only satisfied with blood.

When I was in high school “Saving Private Ryan” made its silver screen debut. Always a sucker for war movies, I went to see it on opening weekend. Completely unaware that what I was about to see would have a lasting impact, I sprung for cherry sours, a Coke slushy and found a seat.

The first thirty minutes of the film were unlike anything I’d ever seen on screen and easily the most intense. At the time I was only vaguely familiar with the D-Day invasion. What I knew of D-Day I’d learned from 60s flicks like “The Longest Day.”

Unlike the older World War II films where a bullet to the heart resulted in a theatrical fall sometimes accompanied by a bit of obviously fake blood and famous last words, “Saving Private Ryan” was the goriest movie I’d ever seen. A soldier reached down to pick up his arm that had been blown off and another lay on the ground, his guts strewn across the sand. The water was red with blood and soldier after soldier fell in similarly violent fashion, some never making it off the landing craft.

When the movie was over, the crowd of tear-stained faces shuffled out in a heavy silence. For days I mulled what I’d seen — the pain, horror, and loss that nothing in this life can prepare you for. What was so obviously the terror of war was not what I had ever pictured as war. What I thought I knew about sacrifice and fairness was suddenly irrelevant and juvenile.

Fast forward to my college years. When I had the opportunity to spend time at the University of Caen studying World War II, I leapt at the chance.

I met members of the French Resistance (yes, it existed), visited the memorial cemetery at Omaha Beach as part of a research project on World War II cemeteries — that experience alone was life altering, met with World War II vets, visited just about every war site of significance, and spent time in innumerable tiny war museums littered across the provence. I left with a profound appreciation for what these men and women did for freedom. It changed me.

I doubt, in fact I’m certain I’d never have considered studying World War II if not for “Saving Private Ryan.”

There’s a larger point here: It wasn’t someone preaching freedom at me or telling me evil unchecked can cost the world millions in lives that changed my heart and mind. No one was yelling at me about civic responsibility or how I needed to vote when I was old enough to have the privilege. No one was spouting off political platitudes or lecturing me about how terrible Democratic policies are for the country. No, it was a movie that helped me understand freedom.

When you come to an understanding of the fullness of freedom, the rest falls into place.

If by some chance you haven’t seen “Saving Private Ryan,” add it to your list. It’s essential viewing. And if you have high school aged kids, watch it with them.

On this Memorial Day, may we take a moment to reflect on the fact that freedom is never, ever free.

[Featured Image a screen shot from this video]
[This post is an improved version of one I wrote for Rare in 2013]

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“the French Resistance (yes, it existed)” – Thanks for that reassurance. Now if we can just clear up those rumors that the Germans might have been involved, WWII history will be complete. 😉

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Icepilot. | May 25, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    lol, be nice

    Murphy in reply to Icepilot. | May 25, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Seriously, how do you make it to COLLEGE without ever learning the basic history of such a seminal world event as WWII? I knew education standards had fallen, but REALLY?

    Reason #368 to homeschool!

      Estragon in reply to Murphy. | May 25, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      Welcome to public education. It’s all about diversity, self-esteem, and what’s wrong with America.

      Math, science, history, grammar, etc., are all so passé. Multiplication tables have a disparate impact on slow students, and Mark Twain used the “n” word, so all that stuff is gone.

      Kemberlee Kaye in reply to Murphy. | May 25, 2015 at 4:59 pm

      Hi Murphy, I grew up abroad and attended international school. Our education was quite different from American public education.

      McAllister in reply to Murphy. | May 25, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      Public education has come to this. While riding on a city bus a couple of years ago there were several black school girls around the age of 14 near me chattering away harmlessly. An adult asked them if they were off from school for MLK Day. They said yes. An elderly lady, also black, said out loud: “I have a dream,” One of the girls said to her: “You do? What is it?”

I watched Saving Private Ryan several times and the parts that got to me were the ones where the mother of the Ryan brothers received the telegrams and the visit by the minister and Army officers. The other part at the end of the movie, is the Matt Damon character kneeling at the grave of the Tom Hanks character and asking his wife if he had been a good man

This scene will forever be etched in my memory. Having to kill the “enemy” with just your bare hands knowing him as a fragile being and taking his life. How can you live after having to do something like that? This in a nutshell is the sum total of my hatred for consolidated power and those that would want this kind of power in the name of “good”. Nothing good can come from that and because of it, some poor man or women will have to make a decision like this. That to me is the root of true evil.

    MJN1957 in reply to Shane. | May 25, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    How can you do it?

    In small-unit or one-on-one combat: How can you not?

    Anything other than instant, obvious, and profound submission must be viewed as a potential threat that must be eliminated by whatever means is immediately available. The verbiage…meh, pure Hollywood…but the deed is absolutely necessary once one had the advantage over the other.

    First time I saw the movie, I expected Upham to get slammed into the wall and have his throat cut as the German walked past him. Honestly, I probably would have done it in the situation depicted in the scene.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Shane. | May 25, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    You could not stand the something bad that would come to you without those ‘evil’ powers you hate. Take your lesson from the fact that those you ‘hate’ for providing your freedom fully tolerate that hate. They understand your ignorance and are better people than you’ll ever be.

    Murphy in reply to Shane. | May 25, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    You sleep peaceably in your bed at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on your behalf*. You should be grateful that you live in a world where you are granted the luxury not only to not have to do it yourself, but even the luxury to freely complain about it.

    You might “hate” what you call “consolidated power and those that would want this power in the name of ‘good’,” but you would probably hate the alternative as well.

    *not Orwell, but still quoteworthy

    Aonghus in reply to Shane. | May 25, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    True Evil is not in the killing of another soldier who, at least in theory has a chance of fighting back. (Although I came to realize that if you were in a fair fight, you’d picked the wrong fight.)

    True Evil was displayed in another Speilberg’s earlier film, “Schindler’s List” where men, women, and children were rounded up and methodically exterminated just because of what they were.

    ray in reply to Shane. | May 25, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Shane, While I appreciate your sincerity, I pity your lack of maturity and lack of experience of the real world or of yourself. You writhe in a fog, suspended in your tangle of wrong ideas, far above the ground. I hope God grants you a teacher.

    Run and hide from your ugly world, S. But there are times if you don’t stop it, it will stop you. If’s that’s your choice, so be it, but my loved ones are more important to me than a thug, so if the thug won’t give up his quest then if I can help it, he bought the farm. I’m with Ben Franklin on this:
    “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    Shane in reply to Shane. | May 25, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    How many here have had to kill another human being?

    How can you not see the power of the scene were a man loses his life and his attacker does not want to kill him. The true sacrifice of both soldiers because one man wanted to rule everything. War is great solver of problems for little minds that bumble into it with the shallowest of reasons. For those that missed the point of consolidated power might I remind you that Germany was a totalitarian regime run by ONE man bent on complete power. Whereas the people that fought against him were constrained and divided in power and still found unity to fight.

    For those that commented on my post you sicken me.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Shane. | May 25, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      That’s quite some level of ignorance.

        Shane in reply to Henry Hawkins. | May 25, 2015 at 9:46 pm

        You sure use the word ignorance a lot Henry.

          platypus in reply to Shane. | May 25, 2015 at 11:15 pm

          HH has more wisdom in his little toe than you will have in 2 decades, at the rate you’re going. Maybe you should test your knowledge by moving to some less privileged neighborhood. A couple of strong arm robberies taking YOUR crap from you should be sufficient for you to get the message that you are not only ignorant but stupid. That’s no way to go through life, son.

          Henry Hawkins in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 11:50 am

          “How many here have had to kill another human being?”

          I have, in a self-defense bar fight long ago. I’m very sure many others here have as well. Why? Your ignorance is in believing that one must experience a thing to understand it. Assuming you have it, how did your understanding of the flight of birds come about? Books and school, or was it necessary to learn to fly before you could understand? Special pleading is a logical fallacy, son, made necessary by your illogical premise.

          “How can you not see the power of the scene were a man loses his life and his attacker does not want to kill him.”

          Oh my, how egotistical we are! Only you can see this! How exactly do you know we haven’t seen this, but simply understand it better than you? Funny how such illiberal philosophies always have that secondary effect of making the speaker morally and intellectually superior to his audience. Your delivery is theatrically emotional, your motives unknowingly self-serving and self-centered. This is how children operate. That one may attack another without wanting to is a mystery to you, a horrific thing only because you don’t understand it, your ignorance a black spot to be feared because we are wired to fear the unknown. Your plaintive, whiny question should be, “help me to understand this!” but no – the intellectually and morally superior come to preach and educate, not to learn anything themselves.

          “The true sacrifice of both soldiers because one man wanted to rule everything. War is great solver of problems for little minds that bumble into it with the shallowest of reasons.”

          Oh, for God’s sake, take the handkerchief from your forehead, Scarlet, and go read a history book. I’ll bet $500 we could ask you five basic questions about Viet Nam, WWII, and WWI, and you’d fail every one. The scene depicted in Saving Private Ryan upset you. Good. It was supposed to. It was also a well done but obvious bit of symbolism, a micro/macrocosm thang. You totally missed it, didn’t you? That’s because when prompted to think, you chose to feel – and anything that offends your feelings is by default wrong. Grow a pair, Nancy, then agree you aren’t the center of the universe.

          “For those that missed the point of consolidated power might I remind you that Germany was a totalitarian regime run by ONE man bent on complete power.”

          My God! We had forgotten all about that! This changes everything! Thanks! /sarc… You sound like some college kid who just read that last week and believe you’re sharing arcane magical knowledge with the peasantry. Get over yourself. Your ‘revelations’ are yesterday’s news, basic historical knowledge.

          “Whereas the people that fought against him were constrained and divided in power and still found unity to fight.”

          The USA, UK, and Soviet Russia were constrained and divided in power? WTF are you talking about? Do you mean the Resistance? Is it your premise that if a war is to be fought, it must only be fought by constrained and divided groups from each side that nonetheless find unity to fight? You seem to treat reality as if you are some god child and the world at your feet is populated by plastic Army men you move around.

          “For those that commented on my post you sicken me.”

          Yes, well, we’ve learned how low that bar is set. In the face of your disapproval we shall try to pick ourselves up and somehow carry on, hoping only to someday approach your level of moral supremacy.

          “You use the word ignorance a lot, Henry.”

          Well, that perception could be held no stronger by anyone other than you.

          Please take this away:

          For the entire history of man there have been dictators and tyrants and other very bad people. In our time – 2015 – dictators and tyrants continue to thrive across the planet. As you might expect of a tyrant, they do not give a flying shit about the heartfelt sensitivities of you, me, or anybody else, and they have armies, navies, and air forces, plus some have guerilla terrorist forces. If you would stop war, young Icarus, preach to the tyrants, not to those who would defeat them. Otherwise, the tyrant wins and won’t allow you to publicly whine anymore. Freedom of speech, first to go. Because there are always tyrants, freedom lovers must fight. Whether they want to have to fight is irrelevant – they fight, for others. Like you. Lose the fight to a tyrant and you lose the ability to fight at all. All is then lost.

          Shane in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 12:16 pm

          You MURDERED someone in a bar fight. SMDH. WOW … Where you drinking? Could you have avoided it? You better come clean with yourself if you expect to live.

          Henry Hawkins in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 2:00 pm

          A simple white flag would have sufficed.

          2KC in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 4:59 pm

          Henry Hawkins | May 26, 2015 at 11:50 am

          Brilliant effort. Thank you for taking the time to put that out there, whether your 12-year-old interlocutor Shane appreciates it or not. It was really well said.

          Henry Hawkins in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 7:35 pm

          Thank you, 2KC. I’m just saddened it has to be said.

      aGrimm in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 6:26 am

      Shane: To partially answer your question, I’ve been in combat but whether or not I killed someone is between me and God. That you ask the question demonstrates a lack of thought about what it might mean to a man who is a part of killing in war. It is crassly insensitive.

      Humans have two natures – the animal nature and the rational nature. It is extremely difficult to explain the complex interplay, in combat, of these natures to someone who has not experienced it. The Commandment, Thou Shalt Not Kill, is opposite of what the soldier is asked to do – destroy the enemy. If I correctly remember the scene you describe, it is precisely the conflict of these two mandates that bedeviled the two antagonists.

      For some, such as totalitarians, destroying the enemy means at any cost and the soldier’s animal nature is encouraged. I can assure you that combat is the ultimate adrenaline rush, therefore it is easy to get soldiers to buy into their animal nature. If the soldier loses sight of his/her rational nature, the enemy is not just someone to defeat but is hated. The killing becomes personal and desirable.

      For some armies both the animal and rational natures are encouraged. Notably, democracies encourage their soldiers’ animal natures but to also maintain their rational natures. Defeating the enemy under democracy controlled armies also includes mercy when warranted. Mercy is a rational nature attribute. I do not know a single US combat soldier who hated their opponent at a personal, one-on-one level. I developed a tremendous respect for the NVA and VC because one quickly recognizes in combat that the other guy is just a poor schmuck like you caught up in something far bigger than either of us has any control. For the soldier who maintains his rational side, killing the enemy is not born from hatred, but from self-preservation and a huge desire to protect his teammates. Killing is a necessity, not a desire.

      For the soldier who retains his rational nature, the conflict between Thou Shalt Not Kill and his country’s mandate to kill/defeat the enemy plays heavily on his mind – for the rest of his life. The last scene at the graveyard where the character asks his wife if he has been a good man is an amazing summation of this conflict in one simple question. This soldier, who maintained his rational nature in combat, has been trying to resolve this conflict – and atone for his actions in combat – his entire life. That he asks the question tells you he is a good man.

      Saving Private Ryan does a marvelous job of demonstrating the honor and horror of combat. However the underlying theme of the conflict of our natures is a prime theme in the movie and you need to deeply contemplate it, especially if you have not been in combat. Reading philosophy and theology can help to understand this – and join the military and experience combat.

      Please define what you mean by “consolidated power”. By dictionary definition, my homeowner association (HOA) is consolidated power. The way you use it, it is vague and sounds nefarious and evil. I may piss and moan about some actions by our “consolidated power” Board of Directors, but they are not evil.

        Midwest Rhino in reply to aGrimm. | May 26, 2015 at 9:44 am

        thanks for your service.

        Thou shalt not murder, is a better translation. There are times we must kill. I had a high draft number, and Vietnam was winding down by then and I didn’t get called. I’m thankful for those that went, and think we won that war, till it was given back by Democrats after they got Nixon out. Tough luck for our allies there.

        Same problem with Iraq, Libya, Egypt … where Christians are now being slaughtered because we didn’t kill enough … or because Obama and Hillary surrendered rather than kill. Egypt has a better chance because their military kicked out Morsi, who I think will be killed after he was found guilty.

          aGrimm in reply to Midwest Rhino. | May 26, 2015 at 9:17 pm

          Midwest: I wholly concur. And yes, the military had the war won. I won’t comment on how we lost it politically because I start spewing invectives. I often hear people explain why they did not serve, to which I say – don’t sweat it. Personally I think it takes a lot more honor and courage to raise a loving family. Unlike going to Nam, I chose to take on the daunting task of raising a family. It may not have been bloody combat, but it sure was a long battle. A battle that, thank God, both sides have won I might add. 🙂

        Shane in reply to aGrimm. | May 26, 2015 at 10:31 am

        aGrimm why do you think that it is crass to ask if someone has killed? Have you? Do you know what it is like? Can you even be honest enough to put yourself in the place of the person doing the killing. How can we judge the sacrifice of our soldiers when we can’t even understand the sacrifice that they have made. The opening scene of American Sniper he kills a woman and then a child. This is a chilling action not in that Kyle did it but that he HAD to do it lest others die. Is it so far from understanding that he will question that decision for the rest of his life? That he will second guess if there was a better way? That he will see those people in his dreams/nightmares for the rest of his life? Killing has consequences even for the moral, dare I say especially for the moral.

        The thing that is shocking to me is that you like so many of the others that have posted on my comment have made a some serious assumptions about me that are completely not true. Good luck in the world if that is how you approach people.

          aGrimm in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 4:58 pm

          Shane: Cripes, did you even read my post? Did you even attempt to grasp the consequences to the average schmuck who has to kill in war? Real life combat is not a video game movie or fantasy world, it has serious consequences. Yet it can be beneficial. After experiencing combat, one recognizes the preciousness of life. One’s focus on what is really important in life, God and family and doing one’s best for humanity, becomes razor sharp. The final scene in Ryan demonstrates this to anyone willing to think about the consequences. I would prefer to educate you in this regards, but you have made no effort that I can see to grasp a combat soldier’s perspective of the movie.

          I repeat with emphasis, it is none of your damn business whether or not I killed in combat. If you are so dense, and thoughtless of my feelings, that you need proof of my experience in combat, I have a photo album up at
 In my eight months, I did 16 patrols and was medical support for three other operations.

          PS: I’ve made no assumptions about who you are or your circumstances in life. However, I am developing a rather low opinion of you as being ineducable. Therefore, bugger off.

          aGrimm in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 5:38 pm

          a previous reply went to never-never land. If it shows up I apologize to all for this duplicate.

          Shane: Did you read my post to you? You certainly missed the point. I was offering a combat soldier’s perspective of Saving Private Ryan. I was offering a perspective on what the consequences are (from the conflict between animal and human nature) to the average schmuck who has to kill in war. War is not a fantasy, a movie or a video game. Until you experience war, you can only vaguely grasp the impact it has on one’s psyche. Being in war was actually a positive for me; I came away from it knowing the preciousness of life and understanding what is really important in life – family, God, and doing one’s best for humanity. However, one carries the images of combat for the rest of one’s life.

          I repeat with emphasis, it is none of your effing business whether or not I killed in combat. In combat, each death of the enemy or a comrade-in-arms is seared into your memory. These deaths are nothing to talk about, brag about, nor to feed someone’s vicarious appetite. I have no obligation to you to prove I was in combat, but you appear ineducable without visual aids. I have a photo album up at http://www.1streconbnassociation(dot)org/1Slow/SlowSiteMap.htm (sorry for non-link, but worried that the link is what fouled up my previous post). On the left side of the webpage, click on “Flix” then find the “Grimm” PDF.

          PS: I make no assumption of who you are or your circumstances in life. However, I am developing a very low opinion of you as being ineducable. Therefore, take a hike.

          aGrimm in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 9:23 pm

          Ah. I must have used a naughty word or bad mousing with my lost post. Here’s the direct link to my photo album

      9thDistrictNeighbor in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 8:00 am

      Hey Shane! Let’s try a hypothetical. What would you have done or tried to do had you been a passenger or crew member of AA Flight 11 or UAL Flight 175? If you don’t understand the reference, Wikipedia has some pictures of what might have been averted had someone been able to kill another human being.

        The passengers of Flight 93 had the information and more importantly the courage and resolve to act on it. I wonder what Shane would have done. He would have died either way.

          Shane in reply to peg_c. | May 26, 2015 at 11:05 am

          But the real question peg_c is that if someone did stand up to the attackers would you have acted with them or against them. I doubt you will take the time to look inwardly to answer that question for yourself, cause fear makes people do funny things.

          2KC in reply to peg_c. | May 26, 2015 at 5:05 pm

          I’m honestly embarrassed for you, Shane.

        I love that you think that I am some liberal child living in mommy and daddy’s house. The level of maturity you display by doing this should give you pause. I opened the doors on my first business 10 days before the events that you think I need to look up on the internet happened.

        On the flight I would have challenged the attackers. I then would have engaged in mortal combat with them. I would also be in mortal combat with you! Because in your delusion about how violent conflict unfolds you would have mis-interpreted all that was happening. You have no training you have no honesty. You would have been the biggest impediment for me in trying to take down the hijackers. Lets be clear there were multiple hijackers and they were armed with box cutters. I would have been one faced with many and with knives. If you think that knives are not dangerous you need to take some gun training. My odds of living through that encounter would have been small, but I understand death. Mine and others. I understand fear, and I would feel it. Make no mistake that I would have acted on my convictions in the face of uncertainty, something that you can not comprehend.

        You can’t even deal with minor social pressure that tells you to attack me on this board, how on earth could you deal with the enormous social pressure not to act on that plane. What do you think the hijackers said to the cabin and the crew? Do you think that they said we are going to fly the plane into a building and you are all going to die? Had there ever been a hijacked plane flown into a building before that? Did you even bother to put yourself into that plane and that time before you asked your utterly ignorant question?

        You are the problem … not the solution.

          9thDistrictNeighbor in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 1:56 pm

          Shane, are you talking to me? I don’t know you at all, and neither do you know me. I suppose from your rather strong reaction that my 9/11 hypothetical struck a nerve.

          I’m sorry you feel the need for such vitriol, but your response certainly helps me to know you better.

      peg_c in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 10:24 am

      Then why are you here? Lost your echo chamber?

    FrankNatoli in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 8:09 am

    A straight answer to your “how” question is: a massive dose of fright and fury. When was the last time you were in a position where fright and fury consumed your consciousness? Now let’s look at what caused the problem leading to fright and fury in the first place. It’s people like you, who vote for and elect politicians who refuse to confront Evil when controlling it would be “easy”. You wait until it’s too late for measures involving minimal loss of life, and then the consequent horrific loss of life offends you, the perpetrator of the problem in the first place. Thanks!

      Shane in reply to FrankNatoli. | May 26, 2015 at 11:21 am

      Your dishonesty here: “It’s people like you, who vote for and elect politicians who refuse to confront Evil” invalidates everything that you say. If you have access to my voting record then you can say that, otherwise it is a lie.

      “A straight answer to your “how” question is: a massive dose of fright and fury.” So I take it then that you have killed someone? After the comment about my voting record color me dubious.

      Horrific loss doesn’t offend you? Brothers, sisters, friends deaths are OK with you. As a bouncer I was well aware of ending problems quickly, before real violence took place. The question though is this, do you know that preempting that kind of violence takes place on a hunch and with very little information? Hind sight is always 20/20.

        Henry Hawkins in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 2:04 pm

        LOL. He’s extrapolating from his experience as a bouncer the nature of war.

        Soon you’ll be a sophomore, Shane, and everything will make sense. And you’ll have friends!

    Marcus in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    So, Shane, you pissed off because you didn’t get a chance to speak German as your native language? Asshole!!

    DaveGinOly in reply to Shane. | May 26, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    The root of true evil is the state-sponsored violence that requires such acts in defense of self, community, and country, not in the acts themselves when taken in lawful self-defense. When assailed by such evil, people are placed involuntarily into such situations and faced with a Hobson’s choice of surrender (and possibly die) or resist.

Saving Private Ryan was a great movie. I’ve watched it many times and am moved every time I see it.

I remember something, though, what Walt Ehlers, a Medal of Honor recipient, who came ashore at Omaha Beach with the 1st Infantry Division said about Saving Private Ryan…that the real landing at Omaha Beach was “60 times worse than Saving Private Ryan”.

Something to consider.

Well worth the few minutes you’ll spend reading. The kind of people we produce…the ones who wear the uniforms of our armed services…is one of the prime sources of my hope for this nation.

    aGrimm in reply to Ragspierre. | May 25, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    Rags: it is curious and most disappointing how our soldiers have been turned into victims. We have gone from the Vietnam era soldier being a “baby killer” to our soldiers are all damaged, i.e. PTSD, homelessness and suicide. I’ve studied the statistics for these memes and they are grossly exaggerated. Grossly. It is not by accident that today’s soldiers are being portrayed in this manner. It is a sneaky way for the anti-military to denigrate our soldiers. The anti-military has lost the egregious “baby-killer” battle, so they are trying a much more insidious derogatory tactic.

The opening of Saving Private Ryan is powerful, but it pales (the movie does not continue to have the same power as it goes on) compared to the real life heroism and sacrifice depicted in Band of Brothers and the Pacific. Those should be required viewing for all students (both as a warning of the horrors of war and the heroism of those who respond to it).

    FrankNatoli in reply to EBL. | May 25, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    SPR had all the fighting but none of the reason [for Americans to be in Normandy in the first place]. “Schindler’s List” [same director] had all the reason and none of the fighting [a Russian officer appears on horseback at the entrance to the concentration camp at the end of the film and says “you can all go home now”…that’s nice…where did he come from]. “Band of Brothers” was different; it covered both the fighting and the reason [episode 9 “Why We Fight”] and was very faithful to Stephen Ambrose’s book [Ambrose was technical consultant during the filming]. For a theatrical film with an extraordinary dose of both the fighting and the reason, see “The Great Raid”, about the U.S. Army Ranger rescue of several hundred American POWs in the Japanese camp in Cabanatuan on Luzon.

Honestly… who the heck is this Kemberlee Kaye gal? One day nearly a year ago, she just shows up on LI without introduction and starts posting a smattering of snide and/or disingenuous stuff better suited for conservative bashing ridicule-centered Lefty sites. Or, if they’re supposed to be some kind of attempt at some type of humor — The Onion.

Maybe it’s just me. Perhaps it’s all just so cleverly nuanced — this dumb ol’ hicktown bible and gun clinging conservative just can’t understand.

Learned about WWII D-Day and the concept of “Freedom” — by watching a Hollywood production fiction film…? I guess latter Primary school, Middle/Junior Highschool and Highschool history were a complete wash then, eh?

Other than those first 30-minutes of the D-Day Landing opening sequence, essentially the entire film is a fantasy — albeit, certainly not the spirit of the fighting men and women battling the evil surrounding the entire tragedy that was WWII depicted in the fiction film. Saving Private Ryan is loosely based on the story of the four Niland brothers. The Niland brothers were four American brothers of Irish descent from Tonawanda, New York, serving in the military during World War II. Of the four, two survived the war, but for a time it was believed that only one, Frederick “Fritz” Niland, had survived. After the reported deaths of his three brothers, Fritz was sent back to the United States to complete his military service and only later learned that his brother Edward, missing and presumed dead, was actually captive in a Japanese POW camp in Burma. He, too, survived WWII after being liberated from the POW camp.

However, there was no ill-fated search across France for Fred Niland. He was contacted in a routine fashion via typical military channels and shipped home stateside after it was discovered that his three brothers were KIA (one KIA being an error of reasonable, but fortuitously incorrect, assumption).

    Sanddog in reply to FlatFoot. | May 25, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    The further away you get from an event, the less impact it has on current generations. Couple that with the left wing takeover of our educational system and you’ll end up with a lot of young(er) people who have a limited knowledge of the sacrifices made by the soldiers and their families at home during WWII.

    Estragon in reply to FlatFoot. | May 25, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Been in a public school classroom lately?

    Trust me, it is not like we remember. Not at all. Not even close.

    aGrimm in reply to FlatFoot. | May 25, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Flatfoot: Not everyone will be in combat and learn its lessons. In our country, dang few have been in combat. Even for a combat veteran, it can take years to come to grips with those lessons and it is difficult to articulate the horror and the honor of war to those who have not experienced it. Sure, Saving Private Ryan is a fictionalized accounting of events, but its messages of horror and honor are spot on. If a fictionalized movie can articulate these messages to those who have not experienced combat, I can only say Thank You to the writers, producers, director and cast. I would urge you to contemplate the final scene at the graveyard to try to grasp the impact on a soldier of having been in combat. Consider what this average Joe has seen and done and ask yourself why would he ask his bride if he has been a good man. To give you a clue, this scene was an incredible summation of my experience and subsequent actions in life.

    I am disappointed that you would highjack a Memorial Day article for your petty rant. This is a day of solemn remembrance for those who gave their all in the pursuit of freedom.

JackRussellTerrierist | May 25, 2015 at 3:31 pm

“When you come to understanding of the fullness of freedom, the rest falls into place.”

This sentence offers a rather large idea that kind of sneaks up on one, given its elegant clarity.

Nicely stated. There’s hope for you. 😉

Donald Douglas | May 25, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Saving Private Ryan is my favorite film.

I had an eye opener today too. When ever someone talked about our military fighting for our freedom I always felt mildly uncomfortable. What has my freedom got to do with Viet Nam, or Irac or Afghanistan I would wonder and then feel unpatriotic. But today I followed a link to a book titled “Crosses in the Wind” by Joseph James Shomon A man in charge of buring thousands of Americans who died in Europe in WWII. And here is part of his dedication:

“all others whose loved ones have given their lives for the freedom of mankind’


    betty in reply to betty. | May 25, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    I hit the wrong button. I read “For the Freedom of Mankind” and did not feel uncomfortable at all.

    aGrimm in reply to betty. | May 25, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    Betty: Nineteen men died in my battalion during my time in Nam. I am as proud of these men as I am of all who died in other wars. To fight for freedom is an honor beyond compare. The South Vietnamese, and all in this world, deserve freedom just as much as we Americans deserve it.

    As you reflect upon and remember those who have given their all for freedom, please remember their families and loved ones. In the loss of their loved one, they too have given in a big way.

I just wish the youngsters knew enough to not wish me a happy memorial day.

    Estragon in reply to Old0311. | May 25, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    It is critical to the Left that they NOT be taught the truth about that – and most other things.

The war continues, no matter what anybody says. The battlefield changes and the type of damage done to the fighters changes but the war goes on.

Each of us should spend the rest of his/her life enraging as many commie leftists as we can, in any way we can. I want my enemies to be so disheartened that they regret messing with America and wake up each day wishing they hadn’t.

And that goes for the enemies who were born here as well. To hell with all of ’em.

Good post Kemberlee Kay. Perhaps the ultimate statement on freedom and sacrifice is portrayed in OF GODS AND MEN; it is a different and rare kind of Resistance (and by Frenchmen). But I join in the sincere sentiments to honor the sacrifices made by American men and women sent to serve their country.

Henry Hawkins | May 26, 2015 at 11:56 am

Kimberlee – For yet another perspective, watch the movie A Midnight Clear.

Moving. Touching. That’s what art is supposed to do, isn’t it? The moving, graphic portrayal of the events portrayed is probably remarkably accurate but relatively speaking experienced by very, very few; more so perhaps in WWII than since, but still relatively speaking, very, very few. The circumstances of the fight in the bell tower, even more remote.

Don’t despair, Kemberlee, here’s your chance to make a personal sacrifice – enlist. Under thirty five? You can still do it. If you do, the chances of encountering circumstances so artfully portrayed by Spielberg are remote, but available should you choose that path and qualify. Otherwise, there are many things any branch would be glad to have you do for several years.

It might be a bit tough; wordlessly taking directions from someone you would almost certainly believe to be not as smart as you; no explanations; long hours; the heat, cold, aches & pains, bugs, rain, snow; communal living with folks you may not like or understand and having to rely upon them; travel restrictions; durable, functional, but unattractive wardrobe; the list is endless. Almost certainly – no guarantees of course – but almost certainly with little fear of ever encountering the circumstances or conditions portrayed by Spielberg, though, of course, training will expose you to the discomfort and make the threat both less distant and more real.

C’mon, how about it; it’s only for a couple of years, that’s the real sacrifice.

I didn’t think so. Maybe if you lived in Israel?