Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Salute For The Veterans

The movie "Cliffhanger" is right in TigerBlog's wheelhouse. How can you go wrong with Sylvester Stallone as he climbs mountains and plunges into icy waters - all without his winter coat - to stop John Lithgow and the bad guys?

It's not quite "Point Break," which is TB's favorite action movie. Keanu Reeves as the surfing FBI agent? Patrick Swayze (alav ha shalom) at his absolute long-haired best? Parachuting into the Pacific Ocean? Bank robbers wearing masks of ex-Presidents?

Action movies with a decent plot, some wild stunts, a little overacting and some not-be-believed plot turns are always good for entertainment. Of course, you have to start out suspending your sense of reality, or else you'll never get past the fact that, say, ol' Sly shot the bad guy through the ice with the gun in his pants after being unable to break through to come up for air and having been under the water for about a minute all with no jacket. Or that Keanu would actually jump out of the plane without a parachute.

TB likes many different kinds of movies. Action. James Bond. Sports. Cops. The Mob. Oldies.

If he had to pick one type over all others, though, he'd go with war movies.

"Sands of Iwo Jima." "Patton." "Apocalypse Now." "The Bridge on the River Kwai." "Full Metal Jacket." "Stalag 17." "The Deer Hunter." "The Longest Day." "From Here To Eternity." "Von Ryan's Express." "Halls of Montezuma." "The Great Escape." The list goes on and on.

The two best movies TB has ever seen (not his favorite, but the best) are "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List," which should be required viewing in schools.

What is the attraction of war movies? The life and death drama, obviously, is part of it, but it goes beyond. TigerBlog thinks it's because they force the viewer to actually think about what it would be like to be in a war, something most of us mercifully never have to experience.

TigerBlog was never in the military, and he will be the first to admit that he lacks the discipline and courage required to be a soldier in a war. Perhaps had he been 20 years old in 1941 or 1967, he would have been forced to see a side of him that he doubts exists.

Instead, TB was able to go straight from his upper-middle-class public high school directly to an Ivy League college. There have been many times that TB has thought to himself that a few years in the military in between would have really helped him, but it's not something he actually would have done. Why? Because he didn't have to.

MotherBlog once had a job with the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and any event for that group was both inspiring and sobering, as wheelchair after wheelchair rolled in.

The coin toss for last Saturday's Princeton-Penn football game was preceded by something called "The First Pass," which is something the Army is doing to help recognize returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. It's supposed to be the football equivalent of throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game, and it sort of came across that way.

The premise was to have three generations of Princeton military people throw a football between them. The second member was Peter Yorck, who was a linebacker before graduating last year and who is now a 2nd Lieutenant. The third member was freshman Robert Basile, an ROTC cadet with an eye on a career in the military.

The first person to throw the ball was Brigadier General Mark Milley, who graduated from Princeton in 1980.

General Milley was commissioned through ROTC into the U.S. Army. In the last 30 years, he has served in command and staff positions with the 7th Infantry Division, 2d Infantry Division, 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division, 101st Airborne Division, 25th Infantry Division, the 5th Special Forces Group. He is a combat veteran who has served multiple tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan supporting Operation Iraqui Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

Obviously, General Milley has devoted his life to something greater than just his own needs, his own wealth.

Today is Veterans' Day. As TB said last year:
Take a minute to think about what the significance of today is. Veterans' Day lacks the family feel of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It doesn't conjure up the start of summer like Memorial Day or make you think of a barbecue in the backyard and watching fireworks like the Fourth of July.
Mostly, it's just another day for many people, a day to go about business as usual. Except that we do it in a country that is free, and because today salutes those who made it that way and continue to make it that way, it's nothing short of the most important day of the year.

Nothing has changed since; TB still thinks exactly the same way.

Princeton's military history is well-documented, with stories of people like Hobey Baker and Moe Berg. There are also hundreds, thousands, of others like General Milley, whose stories aren't as well-known but whose contributions to this country have been invaluable.

Because of them, every day of the year gets to be your day to do whatever you want, to be whatever you want - or don't want.

Today, though, is their day. They are the ones who made all of this possible for you.

Veterans' Day.

Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave; o'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

It does. Thanks to all of the veterans out there.

1 comment:

Adlay said...

Well said TB. Thank you to our Veterans and those who continue to serve! God bless America.