For July 4th yesterday, our family watched an excellent HBO movie called TAKING CHANCE. I highly recommend it.
This movie reaffirms the great cost of our liberties and freedoms. It depicts the true story of Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Strobl (Kevin Bacon) as he accompanies the body of a young Marine from Dover DE to Wyoming. The soldier, PFC Chance Phelps, was killed in Iraq in April 2004 from an attack during a routine mission.
It was interesting to watch the complex operations it takes to bring a soldier home, from preparing the body and sewing the uniform, to sealing the casket, to carrying the personal effects and flags that are presented to the family. This film was humbling to watch the effect of this young man's death on so many "everyday" people from the baggage handlers to the people on the plane to those who watched the military casket drive through. The high cost to the family, and the pride and honor with which they suffered their loss, was wrenching. The narrative of this story originated from a journal that Col. Mike Strobl kept during the week-long journey, and after asking permission of the family sent copies to Phelps' comrades in Iraq and a few others close to him. The idea for the film snowballed from there as more people were deeply moved by this simple story.
Strobl had not known Phelps, and heard stories about him when he sat with his comrades and with his family. It reminded me very much of the time I was honored to play flute at the Memorial of a soldier killed in the Pentagon during the 9-11 attacks. So many people came, more than 400, that the church had to open doors and seat people in corridors and nearby. The service went on for more than 2 hours as many people recounted what this soldier's life had meant to them. I remember looking at the photographs of the man, and the grieving family, and thinking in a way that I was glad I hadn't known him since I don't think I'd have been able to play if I had. It was a tremendous honor and so humbling to be in the presence of all of these brave men and women -- brave not only for their service, but simply for their quiet courage while they grieved.
It is good to think on these things, and especially during Independence Day. July 4th is not just eating ice cream and watching fireworks, but it is remembering with gratitude all that has been sacrificed for us to live free. I would just like to say, thank you veterans, thank you families, who sacrifice so much for all of us.