I wasn't eager about seeing "Lone Survivor," the new film about four U.S. Navy SEALs forced to fight a terrible and heroic battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
What worried me was that it would turn out to be a typical Hollywood war movie, with archetypal characters (the city kid, the cynic, the country boy, etc.) and some kind of big speech at the climax.
But it wasn't a typical Hollywood war movie. It is about morality and the cost and a mission gone wrong. And I'm glad I saw it.
One of the good things about "Lone Survivor" is that there isn't a big rousing speech from the star. Instead, there was a short line. But it seized me and I just can't shake it. It is delivered on the bloody mountain, a request from one wounded SEAL to another, asking, simply, that a message be sent to his wife:
"If I die I want you to make sure that Cindy knows how much I love her, and that I died with my brothers with a full ... heart."
When the movie had finished, as the credits rolled, many of us in the theater sat still and stayed that way, thinking of what we'd just seen. On screen, there were photos of the actual SEALs and helicopter pilots and other soldiers who died in that fight.
You see them with their wives, with their kids, you read their names.
The film is leading at the box office, but that's not a reason to see it. If nothing else, "Lone Survivor" serves America by confronting us -- and the political class -- with what America is desperately trying to avoid and forget.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks were long ago. And the advantage once held by the political class, talking about duty as if they understood it, is long gone. They don't make speeches about war. President Barack Obama remains stubbornly ambiguous at best about the other 9/11, about those other former SEALs who were left to die on the rooftops of Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.
Here's the thing: America sends our people into bad places, into Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. So we owe them. The very least we owe them is consideration.
Like many of you, I'd heard the buzz about "Lone Survivor," with some early reviews talking about the realism, although how the hell would they know? Realism in a war movie? My father had an answer when we'd ask him to watch a war movie on TV.
"Put on Bob Hope," he'd say, mentioning a comedian of another age.
My father spent almost a decade fighting, first in World War II, in the Albanian mountains in the snow against the Italians and the Germans. He survived the Nazi occupation when the Germans forced starvation of Athens. Then came more fighting in the terrible civil war against the communist guerrillas in Greece.
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