Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kathleen recommends "Taking Chance"

I watched HBO's "Taking Chance" last night and had to post this morning, partly as a bookend for my post on Friday. "That Lucky Ones" is about coming home from war wounded inside and out. "Taking Chance" is the true story of a Lt. Col. who volunteered to escort the remains of a soldier killed in Iraq--to take him home. It, too, is a simple story--an experience, really. It's moving from beginning to end. Very understated. Kevin Bacon is wonderful. I had no idea how carefully the military treats the remains of our fallen soldiers. It's beautiful. Don't shy away for fear that it's too morbid. It's not presented that way.

Back in 1973 when I was on my way home for Daddy's funeral (he's buried at Arlington) I watched from the plane window as a military escort supervised the loading of a casket onto the conveyor belt and into the belly of our plane. I was still in denial, but I remember that moment vividly.

"Taking Chance" shows ordinary Americans honoring Chance Phelps all along the journey home, and in that way it presents a real contrast with "The Lucky Ones." There's truth in both, of course. I read recently that Iraq War veterans are joining the ranks of the homeless in ever-increasing numbers. So many Vietnam vets on the streets, and I often wonder what "Support Our Troops" means. Certainly nothing that can be reduced to a 3-word bumper sticker. I do feel that movies like these help us realize as a community that these are our sons and daughters.

Chance Phelps was buried in Wyoming. The horse-drawn wagon reminded me of so many funerals for members of Clyde's family. I've blogged about this before--in Indian country, the VFW plays a big part in every veteran's funeral, and reservations are replete with veterans. There's nothing more moving to me than Taps and a 21-gun salute. At Arlington there was a fly-over for Daddy. For my retired cavalry officer grandfather, there was a horse-drawn caisson and the riderless horse, Blackjack. The spit and polish, the pomp and circumstance--until we find a way to get along in this world without sending our young people into the line of fire, these things somehow remind us of the gravity of it all even as they comfort us.

Even if you don't get HBO, watch the trailer.

6 comments:

Kathleen said...

I watched this last night and I was so very touched by this story. I don't think I had dry eyes the whole time I watched it.
It hits home how many of our young people in Canada, the US and around the world do not come home from these wars.
It is a very fitting tribute to the slayen and for the familys.
As our returning heroes are brought from Trenton Air Base to the corener's office in Toronto, Thousands of people line the road and bridges along HWY 401 and pay their respects to the fallen. It was even brought to the attention of the US news broadcaster Brian Williams and he did a special on ABC Tonight back in Novemember.
We have renamed part of the Highway Hereos Way.
God Bless all these young men and woman who give up their lives for our countries.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Kathleen, thre's an article in today's Mpls Strib about the fact that Obama is considering lifting the ban on news coverage of the arrival of coffins at Dover AFB, and they're looking to Canada and Gr Britain as models, where the media is allowed but restrained from invading family privacy. In this country we've had wackos protesting at funerals in recent years--protests that had nothing to do with the war, mind you--and that kind of thing certainly must be stopped. But I believe the public must somehow share the grief, pay respects, honor the dead.

The scene in this movie where the hearse and the escort car were joined on the lonely Western highway by motorists, who turned on their headlights and drove slowly for who knows how many miles when they saw the flag-draped casket in the hearse was incredibly moving.

Kathleen said...

I thought that part on the lonely road with the hearst and the people falling in behind was so heartwarming and so respectfull. It restores your faith in mankind. And you are right, people need to be able to pay their respects to the people who keep their land safe.
I hope President Obama can change this policy.

Dina said...

I forgot about it, I'll have to watch it, I do have HBO, thanks for the reminder.

Linda said...

If I had HBO, I might watch it but I'd probably cry through the whole thing. It hasn't been that long (a few months) since my DH (a Vietnam vet) died and, you are so right about Taps and the 21-gun salute. I was able to hold it together during the funeral pretty well until that part. *sniff*

sshay said...

Kathleen,
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Come on over and check out what Lynn has to say.
Susan
sshay.wordpress.com