« WSAU Opinion Blog

OPINION - Memorial Day 2013

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU)   I live under an umbrella of freedom and security that’s provided by others. There’s been no draft in my adult lifetime.  There have been wars and military actions, but nothing like the great wars in Europe and the Pacific. Since I’ve never picked up a rifle in defense of our country, I’m sure my understanding of ‘making the ultimate sacrifice’ is imperfect.

Steven Spielberg has created two memorable movie war scenes that are worth reflecting on. His opening 22-minute sequence in Saving Private Ryan is gut-wrenching; it’s probably the most graphic war scene ever filmed. I taken by the randomness of who lived and who died. The hatch is opened on a troop transport that’s speeding towards the beaches. Inside are 50 soldiers. Some are shot and killed before their boots even hit the shoreline. Others make it to the beach and take out hostile machine gun fire. It seems as if the hand of fate decides who lives and who dies.

Spielberg’s War Horse was not as popular as Saving Private Ryan… but it gives us a modern-cinematic look at World War One fighting. There are very few modern WWI movies; most were filmed years ago without the production quality that modern audiences expect. You’ll see soldiers fighting in mud and in deep trenches for a few yards of ground; they could give back that same footing during the next counter-attack. Some soldiers are on motorcycles; others are on horses. The early 1900s were a time of industrial invention, and new tools of war came into being – the machine gun, poison gas, tanks, airplanes.

Military historians will tell you that much changed from World War II to Korea. Korea was a primitive war compared to Vietnam. And the use of electronics and technology on the battlefield is unprecedented for Gulf War I and II and Afghanistan.

Wars and battles change. The sacrifice is constant. We remember all who gave their lives defending out country on this Memorial Day.

Chris Conley