Family Movie Night
by Karyn Bowman
With Memorial Day weekend quickly approaching, I know many people have thoughts about picnics or backyard cook outs.
I always think about my grandmother, Ruth Day Weinhold, and wish I could get myself together enough to visit her grave site in Wheatland Township in Will County. Not too far away is the old Methodist graveyard where my great-grandmother, Susan Grill Weinhold, is buried.
However, Memorial Day was not meant originally for visiting our dead but to remember the military members who fell through various various wars. The holiday was first approved in 1868 by Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic as a way to honor those killed in the Civil War. But as the years passed and other wars took more young men, the holiday’ meaning was expanded. Red poppy flowers are now sold so we do remember them.
And we should. No matter what you may think of these various war, the rightness or the wrongness of it all, we should remember the veterans and help out in whatever way we can. Some were drafted; in the last thirty years it has been voluntary service. That does not matter. What should matter is that these men and women get the support they need for medical services, to find work after their service is done, and to live as all of us want to do.
I thought about movies this week that was fitting for this topic. What I kept going back to time and again was a double feature by Clint Eastwood. Flags of My Father and Letters from Iwo Jima show the Pacific theater from WWII from two points of view.
The former tells the story of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima that is shown in the iconic photograph. It delves into the stories of three of those men, how they came back to do war bond tours only to have to return to the Pacific. We find out how each man’s life ended as well.
The second movie tells the Japanese side from the viewpoint of a general who visited America in the 20s and a young soldier who wants to stay alive so he can return to his wife. The General writes beautiful letters to his family but the heartbreak is there. He knows he will not be returning. The young man works to stay alive and eventually finds himself with the General.
Neither movie shies away from the difficulties of war, neither is afraid to show how a man might loses his bearings and turn to alcohol to numb the pain or commit atrocious acts out of stressful frustration. Eastwood imbues each movie with a certain amount of grace and truth that stands up to repeat viewings. That is the sign of a brilliant director in my mind.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.