Marines.Together We Served

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hooray for Hollywood!

At present, I am on my two weeks of Annual Training which is being conducted at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar in San Diego. As usual, the weather here is fabulous. Since I have to be gone, it’s a great time to be away from the 100+ degree weather in the Central Valley of California.

During this weekend between the training evolutions several of us decided to take in a movie. It was agreed that we would have dinner Saturday night at a local Mexican restaurant before seeing “World Trade Center,” (WTC) which was just released this week. I like movies well enough; I just don’t care for most of the stuff Hollywood puts out. The last movie I went to see, “Cinderella Man,” was during my annual training last summer at MCAS Yuma, Arizona. For those of you who have been reading my weekly articles for a while, you may recall the article I wrote on that movie.

Since I’m not very trusting of Hollywood to produce wholesome and historically accurate movies, I approached WTC with some skepticism. Occasionally they get it right. This is one of those occasions.

Obviously the movie is about 9/11, but specifically it takes a personal look at three very real people and how their lives were affected by the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Mind you, this is an extremely intense movie! The producer, Oliver Stone, did a masterful job. In particular, despite the nail-biting drama unfolding on the screen, he managed to include some light-hearted humor which was just enough to relax the audience periodically. One of the three characters profiled in the movie is a Marine reservist who leaves his Lower Manhattan office, puts on his camouflaged uniform, and heads into the rubble of the collapsed towers looking for survivors. He encounters another Marine there doing the same thing. They both wander over the wreckage calling out, “United States Marines! Call out if you can hear us!” After locating the two other main characters (both of who are officers with the Port Authority Police Department [PAPD]), the Marine uses his cell phone to call for help from fire and medical. Once at the scene, one of the firemen asks the Marine in a friendly manner for his name. The Marine replies, “Staff Sergeant Karns.” The fireman then says, “You got a shorter name?” To which the Marine replies, “Staff Sergeant.” Every Marine in the theater busted out laughing. It’s a Marine thing!

The main focus of the movie was on the importance of relationships in life. The movie followed the harrowing ordeal of the families during the hours following the collapse of the twin towers, switching back and forth from the PAPD officers trapped deep in the rubble, to their wives and kids desperately hoping against hope that their loved one would come home. As one of our happy band of five commented over Cold Stone Ice Cream following the movie (“comfort food” we called it!), after seeing the movie he simply wanted to go home and hug his wife and kids. This movie will force you to reevaluate what’s important in life. One of the wives in the movie confessed to a friend, “I can’t even remember what my last words were to John!”

What surprised me the most about this movie was the role that faith played. Specifically: faith in God. In fact, it was central to the story line. The two Port Authority officers were Catholic: one, who when he died, saw a vision of Jesus; the other claimed not to be a religious man, but when he was slowly being crushed by the cement blocks and steel girders, he cried out to God, and recited the Lord’s Prayer. The Marine was a strong Protestant. After a time of prayer in his church, he sensed God leading him to search for survivors in the rubble of the World Trade Center. An interesting piece of information at the conclusion of the movie said the Marine Staff Sergeant returned to active duty and did two tours in Iraq.

We are spared the gratuitous images of the planes being flown into the towers, but the reality of what had taken place could not be missed. The sound effects, creating the sensation of the towers crashing to the ground, is breath-taking. The movie kindly avoids the gore and carnage, focusing instead on the three main characters and their families.

After all, what’s most important in life than family?

What’s most important in your life?

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