A movie on HBO makes me think about my little slice of America

(From imbd.com)

(From imbd.com)

I started to watch my HBO-recorded version of “Lone Survivor” on my flat screen with my movie critic eyes.

Mark Wahlberg was cool under fire as soldier Marcus Luttrell, caught with his team in the mountains, battling the Taliban on its terms. Peter Berg wrote and directed this true story from Luttrell’s book with a masterful eye and touch. The entire cast who played the American soldiers hunting Ahmad Shah — Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana — were amazing, as were the actors who played the native people who protected Luttrell in the aftermath of the bloodbath that ensued.

Very good movie, yes.

Yet that’s not the feelings that mattered most as I watched on a late October night in Syracuse, N.Y., with my dear wife Karen, felt something building in my gut from this movie that depicted American soliders giving their lives nine years ago in a stark, brave, valiant, ugly, awesome, boiling pot of human conditions and emotions.

Our flag, as flown on his  front lawn every holiday in Syracuse, N.Y., by Good Neighbor Tim.

Our flag, as flown on his front lawn every holiday in Syracuse, N.Y., by Good Neighbor Tim.

War is awful beyond words, I said to Karen, as she shook her head up and down to agree with me.

And I never had to go. I never was drafted to serve for my country. My little slice of America, my peers born in the year 1957 and a little bit before and after, oh, we heard plenty from our grandparents about World War II, how we beat down Hitler and kept our country and the world great. And our parents about the Korean War, though that one carried far less punch. And we saw much on our TV screens about the Vietnam War. Kill counts and protests and the end of the damn thing.

Us? Those of us that turned or will turn 57 years old this year? Unless we signed up voluntarily for the military, we did not have to put on a uniform and go through basic training and live in a barracks and get shipped somewhere overseas. Or fight to preserve our way of life.

Plenty of Americans younger than us, they have done all of that, in the Persian Gulf, in the sand, in various decades when the enemy nation fluctuated between Iran and Iraq, hunting down people of terror by the name of the Taliban.

I am thankful for those who have gone to those places, fought for me, for mine, for ours, given their lives, given their spirit, given so much. I am one of those who will shake a soldier’s hand when I run into a person in uniform during the course of everyday life, even as I wish we would never have to lift a weapon to fight another collection of people again.

As I watched “Lone Survivor,” I felt a lot of things besides thankful and secure. Angry. Conflicted. Guilty. Yeah. I felt a little guilty.

Have you served in the military, and if so, when and for how long? Do you feel as if military service is appreciated enough? How do movies about the war leave you feeling these days?

Here’s a link to my post aboout something special about this year for those of us born in 1957.

Here’s the source for the poster of “Lone Survivor.”

26 thoughts on “A movie on HBO makes me think about my little slice of America

  1. I do not feel that service personnel are appreciated enough, even by the government. I was quite surprised in the past few years when I learned just how many things are not provided by the gov’t to the men and women who serve — things that used to be part of the job. But I don’t think you should feel guilty. And I also think you’re the type of guy who shakes a lot of strangers hands, not just military personnel. I think with you, a stranger’s a friend you haven’t met yet. 🙂


  2. The last war movie I saw was “Monument Men” which was set in WWII. The main characters were trying to save art treasures that the Nazis had stolen. I felt they were heroes as are all those who protect and serve in the military.

    War is hell. I doubt those who have fought in the trenches would glorify it. It angers me that those who advocate for war – war hawks in congress, for example – rarely served … and made sure that their kids rarely served.


  3. I grew up watching war movies from the 40’s and 50’s, loving all of them, then the Vietnam war came and the movies followed, and I loved watching those, especially The Green Berets with John Wayne. Yes , those were good movies, but Lone Survivor and The Fury, which we just watched actually make you feel the pain and the great sacrifice that these young and older men go threw. We will never really know what horrible acts are committed on both sides, we can only imagine what they have to live through to survive. May God bless all these men and their families as we get to sit in our warm comfortable homes and eat warm food only because of them.


  4. I too am thankful for our troops. I am not very pleased for some of the reasons our gov’y gets into wars, but that is not the choice of the troops – they do their jobs and sacrifice their lives when called upon. If our politicians had to fight in the wars they started, they might be a bit more careful how and when they used our valiant troops. There is a bumper sticker that was circulating here for a while that said “If you can’t stand behind our troops, try standing in front of them.”

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  6. this sounds like a powerful movie mark, to move you this way. i’ve thought about this too, we came of age sort of in an in-between time of peace. i wish there were longer periods of time like this. i also, respect and am thankful for those who are in the military and risk their lives on our behalf.


  7. I did not serve. Thought briefly about it in high school but never pursued finding out more.

    My husband and I both thank veterans when we see them. And I thank them as I watch news stories about what thy continue to do for us. I don’t understand all of our politics. I don’t understand all of our wars and conflicts. But I fully understand men and women who sign on that dotted line to serve our country. Not knowing where they will go or what they will face. I understand, respect, and appreciate it. Always.


  8. Were I to think more on it, I’d be sadder and more humbled, but the war my generation and onward have seen has been fought with smart bombs, etc and live broadcasts on the ‘net. War seems like a movie 😦 And you’re so right–there are real people fighting with their lives and there have been so many who have died for our freedoms. Yes, humbling. I don’t gravitate toward war stories, movies, etc. Maybe more of a guy thing? Sometimes I just like to stick my head in the sand.


      • my problem is I don’t want my soul shaken and mind rattled anymore than it already is, which is why you need to keep reviewing so I can watch vicariously. Am reading a book my oldest liked about a clone and how sad his life is. My daughter said it doesn’t end well, but I can’t stop reading because I’m already into the storyline. Asked her why it was worth reading if there was no happy ending and she said “things don’t always have to be happy, mom.” So she gets it, you get it–maybe I’ll get on board one day.


  9. I liked the TNT, Stephen King’s movie, called, “Big Driver,” which was free. I think it is interesting when the different channels come up with movies, some brand new! I appreciate fully the ones who serve, never feel guilty. Our age was a hard time, sometimes due to not really fully believing in the cause of our Viet Nam war. Sometimes, I do wish we could ‘stay at home’ and take care of our own hurting, impoverished, hungry country. We are still not perfect, we may wish to consider this in the future. Yes, we are safer and I am definitely grateful, Mark! This sounds like a moving and motivating movie… Don’t feel guilty, though!


  10. I always stop the old men in their veteran ball caps to tell them thank you for their service and raised my son to do the same. I saw one man wearing a cap that said 1941 on it yesterday at the grocery store, and I wondered why he made it out alive and thousand of (literally) boys didn’t, about how many people he touched in his life, and how much longer he has. I grew up in a generation who also did not have to fight for freedom, so I cannot fathom young men my age dying by the thousands and leaving a huge hole in a world of “what could have been.”


    • I am figuratively at your side saying thank you, Kerbey. In Syracuse we are only 50 miles from Fort Drum, so I get many chances to smile and talk and shake hands with active military, and am glad for it. And yes, what a huge hole of what could have been. Sigh.


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