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Old 05-25-2012, 10:29 PM
Location: Texas
14,076 posts, read 19,265,280 times
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Here are two films by the great Hollywood director, John Huston. After the success of his first feature film, "The Maltese Falcon," Huston joined the Army and made documentary films during the some of the worst fighting of WWII.

The first film offered here, and the last one he made, deals with the psychological trauma endured by returning Veteran's from that war. Entitled, "Let There Be Light." it's an unscripted look at a group of returning soldiers who are suffering from having reached their breaking point. The film ends on an up-beat note as they all go home feeling much better. But, history has shown us that it's not the end of the story. Later on, 20 or 30 years down the road, those issues resurfaced and dealt crippling blows to far too many of "The Greatest Generation." It has also affected subsequent generations of Veterans, those who fought in Korea or Vietnam, and is as sure as the sunrise for those coming back from this war. Combat trauma does not end. It just goes into remission for awhile.

The movie was banned from public viewing for decades.

National Film Preservation Foundation: Let There Be Light (1946)

The second film offered up here is "The Battle of San Pietro," Huston's classic soldier's-eye view of combat. It is so brutal, so authentic, so realistic that it too was banned. The American people were not ready to see the reality behind the patriotic jingoism, the truth of what men (and now women) endured in their name. They still aren't. It's easier to believe the myth, to feel the swell of pride when thinking of the "sacrifices" of our soldiers, to stand in awe of the row upon row of white tombstones than to contemplate just what war really is. We've been fortunate, but few know how much so.

John Huston’s The Battle of San Pietro | Studio Daily

In this film, Huston and his cameramen were "embedded" with units of the 36th Infantry Division (Texas National Guard) as they assaulted the very strong German positions around the Italian village of San Pietro. They recorded real combat in a manner not seen before and rarely seen since. It ends as little more than Army propaganda, but that's to be expected.

The REAL story is seen in the repeated assaults by the 2nd and 3rd Battalions right into the teeth of the strongest part of the German line, attacks which reduced both battalions (5 rifle companies) to a strength of less than 1 rifle company, and attacks which were not necessary. When the dominant terrain feature, Mt. Lungo, falls to our troops, the enemy withdraws. Even a novice could have foreseen that, yet the men of those two battalions were hurled again and again and again into the breech for no useful purpose.

As you attend whatever Memorial Day services you chose (if you do at all), take a moment to reflect upon how many of them died needlessly, slaughtered by incompetent leadership or engaged in wars started by politician's enamored by the Hollywood image of war; a grand, noble, glorious undertaking which always results in victory.

It doesn't. And, there is nothing noble or glorious about it. War for the foot soldier is a descent into madness, into horror, into futility. See the soldier who suddenly drops to the ground in the opening moments of the 2nd Battalion's attack through the olive grove? See how he collapses as if his bones had turned to jelly and how he never moves again? He's dead. That's how men killed instantly fall. How noble and glorious was his death? What did it accomplish? How did it affect the outcome of the war? It didn't. He just died right then, thousands of miles from home and all alone.

THAT'S what Memorial Day is about. It's about death in its most awful form. It's about death for no reason, no purpose, no long-lasting effect, no grand and glorious reason.

Yet, though Memorial Day is for remembering their deaths, the thing to take away from our remembrance is not that they died for no reason, but that they were willing to take the chance. Anybody can avoid going into harms way, even when there is a draft, so the honor goes not to those who died because they died, but because they didn't shirk their responsibilities as citizens of a free country, because they voluntarily and willingly placed themselves in a place in time which resulted in death.

Remember not their sacrifice, but their dedication to defending that which we hold most dear; liberty for us and for all mankind. And, take a moment to look askance at those who did not or will not. In comparison with those who died for an ideal, they're crap and will remain crap for as long as they live.

Last edited by stillkit; 05-25-2012 at 11:35 PM..
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