I honor Memorial Day more now than I did when I was younger



I ’ll admit, as a youngster, Memorial Day was just a holiday to have a barbecue with family or enjoy the opening of the local swimming pool or beach. But now I appreciate my three uncles who served in the Vietnam War and the soldiers who have shed blood and died in all the nation’s wars. According to pbs.org, the total number of American individuals killed in all U.S. wars is more than 1.1 million.

I watched movie called “12 Strong” this month. It was released on DVD in April and is based on a true story. The human-interest element and the way it shows how soldiers risk their lives kept me captivated throughout the movie.

In it, Army Captain Mitch Nelson has wife and young daughter. On Sept. 11, 2001, his daughter tells him to look at the two planes crashing into the World Trade Center on TV. Troubled by what he saw, Nelson, who had been promoted to a staff position, volunteers to go to Afghanistan. At that point, he was concerned with more than those in his own circle, but also the families affected by the September 11 attacks. He is ready to, at minimum, sacrifice the cozy life he had become accustomed to for one he felt would do the most good for the most American people.

The Fifth Special Forces Group commander told Nelson the best thing he can take into combat is a reason why, handing Nelson a piece of the World Trade Center. The commander said there were 19 men who had attacked the U.S. five weeks earlier and Nelson’s troop would be the first 12 men to fight back, instilling a sense of responsibility. His troop was assigned to fight alongside Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, who he is told will capture the city of Mazar-i-Sharif from the Taliban with Nelson’s troop’s help.

The American troop and those fighting with them were greatly outnumbered and didn’t have the tanks and machine guns their enemies had. Dostum tells Nelson every time he lost a man, it was like a stab in his heart. I believe seeing fellow soldiers be shot and wounded pushes all soldiers to fight with more passion.

After a major setback towards the end of the end of the movie, Nelson told his troop it was likely they all would not make it through the challenge ahead of them alive. A sense of commitment had set in and the soldiers, who were all still onboard, as has with soldiers in other wars. They were determined to at least try to complete their mission at any cost.

I can’t say whether the troop was able to take of Mazar-i-Sharif or whether Nelson kept his promise to his wife to come back home for fear of giving away too much of the movie. But, I can say, the willingness to die for one’s one country and what one believes in, not dying itself, is the noblest expression of human compassion there is!

Tanya Terry is a staff writer for the View Newspapers. Contact her at tterry@mihomepaper.com.

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