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.
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.”