Growing up with a Dad who was a Marine, we learned a lot about discipline, respect, and a brotherhood that runs very deep. We can’t remember a car in our family not covered in Marine Corps bumper stickers and how it would lead to conversations with fellow servicemen and servicewomen who had an instant rapport unlike any we’ve known. This connection, shared by members of all branches of the military, is something we missed out on and we look at those who serve with great admiration.
It has become almost cliche to thank members of the military for their service or to say without it we wouldn’t have the freedom to do the things we enjoy such as podcasting or blogging without fear of censorship or reprisal. But it is also very much true. In keeping with the theme of our podcast, we look back at a few movies that have attempted to give us a glimpse behind the scenes. Their attempt to show the experience of being in the military including both positive and challenging aspects of such service.
Numerous movies have tried to portray a realistic view of what it might be like to not only serve, but to “see action” during enlistment. Our father, a Veteran of two wars (Korean and Vietnam), had only one regret and it was not experiencing active combat during his time in the Marine Corps. Veterans who’ve suffered a lifetime of pain may have a different view.
One film, Born on the Fourth of July, is based on the true story of Ron Kovic (portrayed by Tom Cruise). Kovic’s story, like other movies with a similar narrative (1950 The Men and 1978 Coming Home), is a gut-wrenching view of a soldier paralyzed in Vietnam who returns home seemingly optimistic. But over time, the psychological damage and struggle of rehabilitation from the war led him to become an anti-war activist.
Tom Cruise, nominated for an academy award, was able to gain insight from Kovic personally. In the film, Cruise seems to embody the spirit of Kovic’s struggles and show how Veterans, even those who volunteered, were poorly treated after returning from war. They also had to deal with a healthcare system not equipped for the physical and psychological damage suffered by those brave enough to fight in a seemingly endless war.
American Sniper, a true story from the Iraq War, is based on the life of Navy Seal Chris Kyle considered one of the United States military’s most lethal snipers. It shows the pressure and responsibility on a sniper to keep members of their platoon alive. But the real pain of this movie is watching Kyle’s struggle with PTSD as he returns home trying to adjust to civilian life.
We owe our Military a huge debt of gratitude not only for their service, but for the sacrifice they make so we may enjoy the way of life we’re accustomed to. Aside from his family, the Marine Corps was the most important thing in our father’s life. On this Veterans Day, join us in giving thanks, not only to the Veterans you know, but those whom you’ve never met.
We love and miss you dad!