ON A PERSONAL NOTE/By Maramis
While you may be one of those people who not only knows what Memorial Day is all about, but also commemorates it by honoring our fallen military heroes and all those who died while serving their country, many only seem to care about having that extra day off, as when VP Kamala Harris made it a point to tell us to enjoy our long weekend.
TCM, Turner Classic Movies, had a weekend-long marathon of military movies on their channel, showing a side of what our service members have gone through in one war or another, from the harsh, cruel and painful everydayness of being cold, hungry, muddy, weakened, weary, and suffering from wearing boots that no longer properly fit and are worn out on the bottoms, exposing their feet to the cold and wet terrain, sometimes wrapped in rags to help keep them going; and that’s only one aspect of what we saw in those military movies. There were double agents, those who gave their lives for their country by pretending to be on the other side for the purpose of obtaining valuable information, even knowing what would happen when they were found out.
There were movies that showed each service at its best — Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and more — and we watched and learned so
much about what they endured that we could never even imagine; we felt closer to them, we cried with them and for them, and prayed for them even while they were only actors playing out the roles of those who actually went through those experiences. And we were amazed at what “ordinary” men (and even a few women) could do because they cared about their country and knew the job had to be done and were willing to make the sacrifice for our freedom.
Of course we got to see the great 1946 movie, The Best Years of Our Lives, which followed three WWII veterans returning home from the war and learning to deal with their families, their friends, their old jobs, and with just being home all over again. One of the stars,
Harold Russell, who played the double-hand amputee, Homer, really did lose both hands while he was in the military, and won two Oscars for his performance; one, for best supporting actor, and the other one, which was an honorary Oscar, for ‘’bringing aid and comfort to disabled veterans through the medium of motion pictures.’’ The special award had been created because the board of governors wanted to salute Russell, a non-professional actor, but assumed he had little chance for a competitive win. It was the only time in Oscar history that the academy awarded two Oscars for the same performance.
There were even one or two movies that helped us to understand the opposing side as merely other military men doing the same thing as our military men, but for their cause. It made me think more deeply about the day when all people will be on the same page and war will be no more. It has been said that the more we get to know “the enemy,” the more we will like them and the more we will be able to love them. Now don’t go getting all upset over my saying that; I believe the person who told us that, in his own inimitable way, was Jesus.
As I watched all those incredible movies (well, not all of them; I did have to sleep and eat and do a little work), I did pray for the day
that war will be no more. Yet we’re a long way off from that day, as we look around the world, and even around the towns and cities in this very country that we used to call the land of the free and the home of the brave. While many are still brave, such as our law enforcement officers and even ordinary citizens, they are finding that those in the same cities where they live prefer to show their anger and hatred for all in any one particular category, killing, maiming, destroying property, and destroying their complete cities. Do they really know that they, those who carry such anger and hate in their hearts, are also making this country unsafe to live in; in essence, making us feel that not only is our government taking little pieces of our freedom away as time goes by, but all those who lash out at those they believe have wronged them (even if they have not) have created a sense of fear for living in a country filled with danger from those who choose to attack those they believe are their enemies. (How is that different from war?)
And apparently our schools now are actually teaching our children something called Critical Race Theory, which is just the thing to encourage our children to grow up to become like those who already feel antipathy toward other races and are making this country a
battleground and feeding everyone’s hate and fear.
We are losing that wonderful feeling of freedom that all those who fought those wars tried so hard to achieve for all of us. The brave
are being beaten down, their hands are being tied, so to speak, and their funding is shrinking, thanks to the fact that our government, at
many levels, doesn’t think that keeping our law enforcement well funded and properly trained is important enough to matter.
Yes, we used to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Those Memorial Day movies brought it all home to us, as we watched the war-time experiences and sufferings of those service members who lived through hell, as portrayed by the actors making it all look so real, as we watched from the comfort of our homes, where we felt safe — at least for the time being.
For those who were never in a war, and those who never lived with a returning service member — especially one who may have become an amputee or worse, and those who never heard the first-hand stories from someone who was personally involved, make it a point to educate yourself and never again wish someone a “happy” Memorial Day. Is there really anything happy about what happens on a battlefield and in a body that returns from war? The only thing that is happy about any of it is when the war is over or when a service member returns from the war. But let us never forget: Memorial Day is to honor those who never came home.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at email@example.com.