Tomorrow will be Memorial Day, a day when we here in the states honor and remember those men and women who have served in the various branches of the military. Hopefully other countries have something similar. As I have mentioned before, many of my relatives have served in various branches during different times in history. WWI, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, Korea, and during times of peace. The truth be told, I did not think much of Memorial Day other than it was a day off from work start of summer thing until my father became ill and had to spend the rest of his days in the St. James Veterans home. It was then that my eyes were truly opened to what our men and women have gone through serving their country and it was shown to me not by books or a class in school but by the actual people themselves how much many have sacrificed – including the ultimate sacrifice.
So where does a movie fit in? Yesterday DH called in his “it’s my turn” card and he picked the movie we went to see. His choice was Battleship. He may have played the game in his youth (I never did) and at the root of things, he just wanted to go see a flick where “stuff” blew up. Couldn’t fault him on that last reason so off we went. On a scale of 1 to 5 I would give the movie a 2.5 – 3. The film had innumerable holes in it, took too freaking long to get to the stuff blowing up part, and the ending was just schmaltzy with one of those “we ran out of any other ideas lets just end it” endings.
But in the middle there were some moments where I actually cried and it wasn’t because the acting was so fine (or bad) or anything of the sort. I cried because there is an actor in the movie who is a real Army double amputee vet. The scenes from his physical therapy sessions reminded me a little bit of me and PT but more so brought back memories of all of the old guys at the veterans home, including my dad. The movie used real active duty sailors as well as real vets; they were called Old Salts in the movie. Seeing them wearing their hats showing where and when they served opened up the flood gates of emotions I thought I had long since dealt with. Daddy has been gone now almost 7 years but seeing those frisky old guys wearing their hats brought it all to the front of my mind.
If you aren’t aware of where the movie takes place, it happens in Hawaii and a pivotal part of the movie involves the battleship USS Missouri. There were a couple of guys at the veterans home who served on that ship during Pearl Harbor and although they did not like to talk about it much at all, they would sometimes let little snippets out. One time one of the men let his memorabilia be used as a display in the halls of the home. History is never so real as when it is right there in front of you. It was at this point in the movie that tears were rolling down my face as I remembered all the years I went to visit daddy and would say hello to the other old guys. Some of them were absolute hoots like the one who would challenge my dad to a drag race down the hallways in their motorized wheel chairs. And there was my friend, who had the same first name as I do, that I bumped into on a charter flight to Vegas with his son one year. Even though in a wheelchair and partially disabled, he was going to have his ‘what happens in Vegas’ fun.
Never would I have thought that a movie based on a kids board game could reduce me to tears, but it did. It just shows that even after all this time I still miss my father very much and although I hated him being in that home, I do have fond memories of the place and the people there. If you celebrate this holiday then I hope you have a good time whatever your plans. Enjoy and be careful out there but do remember what the real meaning of the day is and if you don’t have someone to honor or go visit, then volunteer to visit at a veterans home (they love cookies, barbeque, and beer – especially beer) and say a prayer for those serving and their families.