Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Taking Chance: A Brief Review

Spoiler alert.

I just finished watching 'Taking Chance', a film about an aging Lt. Colonel in the Marines who, while working a desk job, volunteers to escort a KIA soldier's body home. The film is powerful, but with very little dialogue. It's driven by the imagery and reactions of the people whose path is crossed by the escort with the box that has to go a certain way everywhere (feet first), and of course the emotions of the escort himself as he considers the significance of the man in the coffin, and their respective places in the Iraq conflict. Aside from one overzealous asshole at the airport metal detector, the reactions are entirely positive - a spontaneous funeral escort on the highway, workers at various places stopping for a salute, or just a moment of respect.

I found this a bit unrealistic at first, but I was reminded that the movie takes place in 2004, when America was still more or less unified on the rightness of what we were doing, and the evidence that motivated us to do it. I doubt escorts get that solid a show of support these days, and that is a true shame. But the bigger point this movie brings to mind is one I've made before: the charge that those who oppose a war - any war - are somehow anti-military, is dishonest at best, and downright insulting at worst, to all those Americans who object to the waste of that most precious of commodities: those willing to risk their lives in battle for the sake of everyone else.

Everyone who does so deserves the utmost respect of the rest of us for it, and luckily in America most of them still get it. The opinions of all the people standing at attention when the body passed were not uniform on the war. Some love it, some hate it, and many are unsure what to think. But it doesn't matter. Whether we think the action they were ordered into is just, winnable, or even intelligent, is irrelevant to the respect deserved by those in the uniform who were willing to go. They were willing. That's enough, and it's a tribute to America that we still understand that. Let no one sully that with baseless accusations of anti-Americanism on the part of their political opponents. That diminishes us all, not the least, the men in the coffins.

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