Have we earned it?

       Picture from “Saving Private Ryan” website

I really struggled while thinking about what to write for a Memorial Day tribute. The day itself is so much bigger than words about it could ever be. I just had a feeling it was going to take someone with more eloquence than me to describe what emotions it engenders in my soul.

So I will turn to what I believe to be the most moving scene ever filmed in Hollywood. I’m talking about the closing scene from the movie “Saving Private Ryan.” In those last five minutes, Steven Spielberg captured the essence of what we owe our fallen heroes like no other director before him or I daresay, like no director ever will again. I, for one, can barely get through it. I literally blubbered in the theater the first time I saw it. I purchased the CD and still cry each time at the end.

I challenge each of you to rent the movie, watch it through, and not shed tears at the last scene shot at the American cemetery in Normandy. If you want to know exactly what Memorial Day is about, this is the definitive movie for you. One caveat: it’s a realistic and almost real-time experience of war. If you can survive the first brutal 20 minutes you will be rewarded with participating in an event that eclipses anything you imagined about what it must have been like for our brave lads.

I was privileged to visit Normandy a couple of years ago. It’s lush and peaceful now, not quite what these men faced when they came ashore. The noise, the fear and the carnage were every soldier’s companions that day. In the first hours 2000 Americans lay dead. Just standing there is surreal.

I know most of you have probably seen “Saving Private Ryan”. See it again. I think you’ll have a renewed appreciation for who and what we honor the last Monday of every May.