I had the privilege of attending a Stars and Stripes Film festival around Veterans Day this year. For three days I watched back to back movies about our Veterans and the battles that were waged for our freedoms.
I have always been drawn to the movies of war that remind us of the bravery and courage displayed and the sacrifices made for you and I and the values we hold so dear. Both of my sons served in the military, my oldest Kristofer in the Marines and Marc as a Navy SEAL. I remember someone questioning them why our family was so patriotic and why they chose to serve. I remember Marc’s reply a little jokingly “It was all of the war movies Mom made us watch.”
We started the film festival with Act of Valor. I had seen the movie twice before so knew what to expect. I had met with Bandito Brothers when they were beginning to write the script and had shared Marc’s heroic story. They had told me Marc would be part of the movie. I knew it wasn’t going to be based on a story in the Middle East, or be a play by play of what he did. There are just pieces in the movie, when one of the SEALs stands out by himself to defend his buddies, the funeral scene that is just feet from Marc’s grave. It is a little more general, character qualities that we see in so many of our troops who serve so courageous and selflessly.
The end of the movie lists the names of all of our fallen SEALs and of course it is emotional to see my sons name along with so many other brave warriors listed there. As a Mother of a fallen hero, I can tell you that it is so bizarre to see your child’s name on a headstone, granite wall, in a book or movie, but when we have heroes who sacrifice greatly their stories need to be told.
The next three days we watched movies about Korea, Iwo Jima, World War II, Viet Nam. You could watch the progression as the movies would depict the actual scenes with reality. After each movie we had someone from that conflict do a Q&A. To be in the presence of so many brave warriors, and be reminded the deep cost so many families made for the freedoms we take for granted was overwhelming to say the least.
Watching Saving Private Ryan when they drive up the long road to their farm house to notify the Mother that 4 of her 5 sons had been killed in combat, was almost to much for me. I knew as that car drove up that dusty road exactly what that Mother was feeling. There are no words that could describe to someone who hasn’t experienced those words, “I’m sorry to notify you your son has been killed in action.” I have only lost one son in combat, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that Mother felt losing four????
Then to watch Black Hawk Down and the graphic reality and consequences of war was about all I could take. I was emotionally drained everyday of the festival. I’m not a big movie person and that probably was more movies in those three days than I have watched in the last three years. I do think it is so important for those movies to be made and for us to be reminded of the cost of freedom.
I remember as I watched one of the movies that it had been over 50 years since these battles and these heroes stories are still being told. I was washed with emotion at that point knowing that the movie American Sniper is about to be released. If you haven’t read the book American Sniper it is a must read that the movie is based on. Chris Kyle was the most lethal sniper in American history.
He was with Marc when he died and after Marc’s death he became like a son to me. Chris was tragically murdered in Texas almost 2 years ago.Marc is one of the main characters in the movie, and this one will share Marc’s heroic actions the day he died and his funeral.
The reality that others will be watching American Sniper 50 years from now and knowing the character of Chris Kyle, my son and their teammates brought bittersweet emotions. American Sniper will be released Christmas Day in certain markets and Jan 16th across the country. Bradley Cooper plays Chris Kyle and Luke Grimes plays Marc. Just like Lone Survivor was based on the book, these are not documentary’s, but I believe that they have worked hard to show the character and tell the stories of these brave SEALs.
Marc was re-deployed to Heaven and this will be the 9th Christmas without him, yet he is still impacting lives around the world.  It’s not just Marc though, so many of our brave warriors have stood out in the line of fire defending you and I and our freedoms. We must never forget the sacrifices each one of our Veterans have made.
As we celebrate the birth of a Savior who was born to sacrifice his life on a cross for you and I don’t forget our Veterans, their families and our families of the fallen who have sacrificed greatly!
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” There are only two that would lay down their lives for you Jesus Christ and our Veterans.
I live my life honoring them both!