Monday, May 25, 2009
Today is Memorial Day, the day we've set aside in this country to honor fallen soldiers. This weekend I watched a movie on HBO called Taking Chance that fits the theme of this day beautifully.
Taking Chance is based on a true story and an article written by a Marine Lt. Colonel about his experience escorting home the body of Marine PFC Chance Phelps. Lt. Col. Mike Strobl, who was played by actor Kevin Bacon, did not know Chance Phelps. But he had his own personal reasons for volunteering to escort Phelps' body from Dover Air Force Base to a small town in Wyoming.
The film showed how much respect and care are given when the bodies of fallen soldiers are prepared for return to their families. I'd never really thought of the fact that when these soldiers die in combat, they are likely to be dirty -- not to mention bloody. As gracefully -- not graphically -- depicted in the film, the military takes great care to present these soldiers in the most dignified manner, even if their families elect not to view the bodies.
I was struck by the profound respect and honor with which Strobl, and more importantly Phelps, were treated in their journey across the country. Flight attendants, tarmac personnel, passengers all showed a somber reverence for what was taking place. The film is pretty true to the facts shared in the original article written by Lt. Col. Strobl.
I think what makes this such an amazing and tender film is the lack of political propaganda. There is no attempt to judge the war in Iraq as just or not. It's not a movie about a war. It's a movie about how the military and everyday Americans say thank you to the men and women who give their lives in service to our country.
The film ends with pictures of Chance Phelps, underscoring the reality of the story.
The DVD and a CD of the film's soundtrack are available for purchase at the HBO Shop. It might be worth buying to watch and then donating to your local library or high school.