I have a deep respect and fascination for those who serve or have served this great nation as part of our military. To constantly put yourselves in harms way, with little appreciation or compensation, is admirable. The freedom we enjoy as Americans comes at a cost. Ronald Reagan said it best with this quote - "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."
Having not served, I know I cannot appreciate all that is involved with this level of sacrifice. I can read books, listen to those who have served, and watch movies and documentaries - but without being there, I cannot fully digest this level of commitment.
Having said that, there are some movies than can give us a glimpse of what it's like to be involved in battle. One of the more visually descriptive movies of World War II, especially the Normandy landing, is Saving Private Ryan. I remember that, as it was released, the intense opening sequence (which cost $12 million dollars and required 1,500 extras to recreate) was causing veterans to experience intense flashbacks. I highly recommend this movie if you want to see a bit of what war is like, but be warned - it's intense.
In the movie, Tom Hanks portrays the laid back Captain John Miller. He and his men are charged with the task of finding a needle in a haystack, one Private James Ryan, who parachuted in somewhere unknown. This team is not excited about the task, and bickering breaks out along the way. Watch this clip to see how Tom Hanks' character handles this situation and explains his thoughts on what was going on around them.
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So to all of those who have or are actively serving in the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy, we, as a nation, say thanks. One day alone does not begin to echo the sentiment of a grateful country, but Veterans Day is a great place to start.