"Saving Private Ryan" (1998) has so many amazing scenes and tells an almost unbelievable story that is such a significant part of our modern history. There is a scene, or rather a section of the movie that takes place after the landing which I remember particularly well. The Allies are moving towards Berlin to end the War and they are fighting their way though small towns in France and Belgium to fight their way to victory. As they struggle, stay vigilant and demonstrate not only bravery but a level of patience, I realized that there was something very basic about my understanding of the WarP
Those of us raised n the 50's and 60's, grew up with WWII looming over our shoulders. There was so much talk about families and friends who had fought and those who waited at home. In my family, we were dispersed all over the Western Hemisphere. My cousin (by marriage) even has a sister in Melbourne, Australia. She was born in Hungary and just kept running.
As the soldiers progressed through the streets of the towns and edged closer to where they knew the war had to (eventually) be terminated, their teamwork and their endurance, along with their unbelievable vision is all I could see. It seems impossible to have been able to train all those young me to creep through the small French towns in Normandy without being captured or killed. Somehow, intuition and persistence seemed to be all they needed. They progressed, even as some of their comrades died and they had to leave them.
I always thought that I was quite informed about the Great War. I read about it, watched many movies and was always aware that, without WWII, I might have been born and raised in Paris or Vienna, not Manhattan and later Chicago. Somehow, watching the details of this particular movie, in its sunny colors on a big screen plus perhaps that I was a parent of two teenagers when I saw it, made it all palpable. The landing on Omaha Beach was incredible, but that was not all they were there to do.
Eight years after "Private Ryan" was released, we were lucky enough to visit Normandy. Wow. Here was Omaha Beach right in front of us. We had driven from Paris, so we could "feel" how far it was. The museum in Caen was exceptional with the images and depictions of the landing as well as photographs, recreated scenes and treasures found in the vicinity. Now, I want to see the WWI sites and see how and where our soldiers fought in trenches.
"When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade" is what we are taught. Sometimes, when things seem stressful or "tight" in my life and I don't what to do next or how to do it, I really think of how amazingly young men fought for us in these past wars… and yes, also how young men and women fight for us now. We have such sophisticated communication now, and the battles are even more frightening. But war is about conquest and self-protection. It's different now, but still, basically the same. Let's put other things in perspective.
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