Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Brother Abroad

DAY 2:

As I type this, my brother is somewhere on a plane heading into unfriendly skies, which draws my mind to something he sent me before he left.

HBO films will be airing a movie based on the practice of escorting the fallen home, a tradition derived by the belief that a brother will never be deserted, even in death. The movie "Taking Chance" stars Kevin Bacon as the escorting marine, a job my brother said many of his comrades had undertaken, but he had never had. He also considered the hardest of all possible obligations.

Some more about the movie:

"Taking Chance,'' the HBO film starring Kevin Bacon as Strobl premieres
at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21.

Along the way, Strobl ept a journal, documenting how Americans from all walks of life honored the fallen Marine they never knew.

"You can read an article that says a certain number of Marines
were killed in this city, or you see a body count coming up. It doesn't really
hit home in the same kind of way as it does if you actually see what happens to
the actual remains,'' Bacon told a group of TV critics. "You see the
preparation, you see the respect and you see the tradition and the honor that is
involved with actually returning them to their final resting place.''

Bacon says little needed to be done to make the journey more
moving or compelling.
"The story is really a very, very simple one,'' Bacon
said. "It's really just the story of this man and this person Chance he's
returning. And it's almost completely unembellished with anything to make it
more cinematic or dramatic or to somehow force us to feel one way or another
based on what our preconceived notions are about Iraq and whether or not we
should have been in there or whatever. It's just the simple telling of what this
process is like and, in its simplicity, I think, becomes an extremely profound
kind of comment on the casualties of war.''

Strobl began noticing the deeply personal responses to his mission
at the Dover Port Mortuary. "During the two days I was at Dover, I think they
had about a dozen departures of remains,'' said Strobl, now retired from the
Marines. "And every time the remains would leave, these construction workers
would stop their work, put their hard hats over their hearts, and stand at their
version of attention. And seeing that, I realized I want to remember this
because there's really some goodness there, these people doing this every time
the remains depart."

"Then the hearse driver on the way to Philadelphia, the
flight attendant who gave me a crucifix, and the only thing she said to me was,
'I want you to have this,' and she left. The baggage handlers, the cargo people,
the pilots, the flight attendants -- all of these people who you can presume
covered the spectrum of political views -- they all had this profound sense of
gratitude and sorrow at Chance's loss. ... People who didn't know Chance, didn't
know the circumstances of his death. All they knew was he was a Marine who died in combat, and they represented, to me, all that's good about America.''

Check out the trailer below, and to Paul (though I doubt you've had time to check email) yes, I did cry.....a little.

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