I know this is late, but it was a difficult post to write and I'm still not too sure if I should post it.
It was Memorial Day weekend and it seemed a fitting time to finally sit down and watch Taking Chance, the HBO movie based on LtCol Mike Strobl's story of escorting a fallen Marine PFC Chance Phelps to his home. I remember reading the story written by LtCol Strobl some time ago and crying as I read. That was nothing to the tears I shed watching the movie. Great minds think alike and I noticed that Amy at The Fourth Frog had done the same. She has a great post over there about the film so I'll try not repeat what she's already said.
There were a few reasons I wanted to see Taking Chance. A few months ago, I'd finally read Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives by Jim Sheeler. Although I could barely go a page without having to stop because I couldn't see through my tears, it was hard to put down. As I mentioned, I had read the original article by LtCol Strobl. When I heard that HBO had adapted the story into a film, I wanted to see it but it took me awhile to work up to it. And there was the fact that Chance Phelps died while serving with 3/11, a unit Stretch served in and deployed with in 2003.
One thing I noticed was how well Kevin Bacon portrayed the discomfort so many Marines (and I'm sure other service members) feel when thanked for their service. Sometimes, as in Strobl's case, it is caused by feeling they are not participating in the "real work" of the Marine Corps. This is the way they feel, rightly or wrongly. I know this because I live with someone who, despite 2 tours in the sandbox, still feels that way. In any case, some of the discomfiture is caused by not really knowing how to respond. That's not to say that hearing the thank-you's are unappreciated.
We watched the film with Big Sis, who is 8-1/2 years old. That might seem a bit young to watch this film but we wanted her to see the impact of one Marine's death, even on people who didn't know him. She has struggled with Stretch's career lately. The year-long deployment (Feb. 2007 --2008) and the move to yet another home and school really caught up to us this past year. In the midst of tantrums, she has said things like she wished Stretch had died in a battle. (Which is pretty darn specific, if you ask me!) While we had tried to paint a picture for her of what her life might be like now if that had happened, we could never really be sure if we were getting through to her. And before any comments suggest it, she is seeing a counselor. Much like her parents, (okay, her mom) Big Sis didn't say much after the movie was over and tried to act like she wasn't affected. But she wanted to see a lot of the special features on the DVD. And a day later, she and her sister were playing and the name Chance seemed to figure in the game. I'm hoping that something got through to her.
Update: I saw this about a medically retired Recon Marine and wanted to share. It's a bit long but worth it. I saw a name at the end that I knew and that always brings it home even more. By the way, according to SemperFiWife over at SpouseBuzz, Derek Zeier finished the 100 mile ultramarathon in 31 hours, 03 minutes and 21 seconds. And he wasn't supposed to be able to walk without the assistance of a cane?