Monday, May 11, 2015

I confess

Image copyright Borepatch, 2011

I watched Taking Chance.  I expect that most of our readers have already seen this, but it was the first time that I screwed my courage to the sticking point to sit through it.  You see, I knew the ending.

For those who haven't seen it, it's the story of a Marine Lt. Colonel who escorts a fallen Marine back to his home town for burial.  I myself have flown with one of our fallen heroes, and I must say that it's not something easily forgotten.  Kevin Bacon won a Golden Globe for his performance which was well deserved.

But there was a part of his performance that hit close to home.  As the officer who escorted the fallen Chance Phelps home, he was invited to a gathering in Chance's home town VFW hall.  Bacon's character ends the evening talking with an old Korea Marine vet, saying that his great regret was that when the war heated up in the early aughts. he chose a desk job at home so that he could spend time with his wife an kids.

That one hit home for me.  I was 43 years old when the planes hit the twin towers, and almost 45 when we went back into Iraq.  But I thought long an hard about signing up.  The service wouldn't likely have wanted me at that age, and certainly wouldn't have sent me to the sandbox (likely if they would have taken me it would have been for a boring old computer security posting).  In any case, I heard the call of home and hearth, just like Bacon's character.  I didn't go.

But the words of the Bard echo in my dreams every now and then.
And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
- William Shakespeare, Henry V,  Act 4, Scene 3

Strange to find my youth to be peaceful and my middle age to be the time when I heard - and passed by - the call.  Bacon's character says something similar in the film, which hit home.

This is quite a film, but one that may make you think longer than you like on things that strike close to home.


Hat Trick said...

I would have signed up after 9/11 but didn't think I'd pass the physical (severe asthma).

Jerry The Geek said...

"Old soldiers never die ... never die ....
they just fade away."

Douglas Macarthur

Never mind, Lads. You've done your bit. leave it all to the youngers now. It's their turn in Hell.

burt said...


I've heard from others who have seen films about military escorts and it deeply affected them too. It's not easy duty - and that's all I'll say on the subject.

A lot of folks wanted to do something after 9/11. Most of us were feeling righteous anger about this horrendous attack and wanted to DO something, even those of us who had already served (USN - 10 years) and who were ready and willing to drop everything and return to service. Believe me: you weren't alone.

But there was no immediate answer pointing at a specific government behind the attack. And it's still maddeningly frustrating.

You're as aware as most that the enemy is an age-old ideology that has been at war with the West for a millenia. Our problem is that we are currently unwilling, as a nation and as a society, to fight the ideology with the tools we can put in place: tight border controls, rejection of visas from belligerent countries, becoming oil-independent of the Middle East, etc.

Dan said...

I did 26 years, 7 months, and 22 days (but who's counting?) and was never sent. Missed everything from Grenada to OIF/OEF. Worked hard, got Soldiers trained and ready, did what I was asked. How does that happen? I wasn't hiding. I reckon it just wasn't my turn. So it goes.

Paul Bonneau said...

There is no calling to invade other countries. It's just empire-building.