William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives and the Returning Veteran

An Obligation to Assist Veterans

One given with all wars is that soldiers, victorious or vanquished, come home from them. William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives tells the story of three World War II veterans and the difficulties they face after returning home. Seventy years later the adjustment back into civilian life has not changed much and is just as difficult. Wyler’s movie is required viewing for anybody who wants to develop a better understanding of the difficulties returning veterans face.

The veterans of The Best Years of Our Lives face a variety of difficulties such as physical disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder, and feelings of isolation. Throughout the course of the movie these men struggle to readjust to civilian life often resorting to alcohol and distancing themselves from those who care. With the assistance of family, fellow veterans, and purposeful work these men are able to make successful transitions into civilian life.

Seventy years later returning veterans face same difficulties as the characters in Wyler’s movie. Seventy years later returning veterans struggle to readjust to civilian life in the same way as the characters of The Best Years of Their Lives. Seventy years later out returning veterans deserve more.

-K-

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) with Myrna Loy, Fredrich March, Dana Andrews, and Harold Russell. Directed by William Wyler.

A Man I Never Knew…

On a Bracelet I Always Wore

The summer before my frosh year of high school my Pops made a donation to the local VFW and they gave him a POW/MIA bracelet in return.  My Pops gave me the bracelet with no expectations that I wear it.  But I did.  I wore it nearly every day through four years of high school and half way through my frosh year of college until the bracelet wore out and broke into two pieces.  My Pops never asked me why I decided to wear it, but sometimes I’d see him looking at it on my wrist.  My Pops never really talked much about his thirteen months in Vietnam.  Not many people wanted to hear what he had to say when he came home, and after a while I think he just decided to keep it all to himself.  I think that bracelet and the Vietnam Veteran hat that he used to wear were ways for him to communicate his feelings.  The hat was one way to let people know he was proud he served and the bracelet I wore was a way to let people know that many sacrificed all.

My Pops passed away six years ago.  His Vietnam Veteran hat, dog tags, and the flag presented at his funeral are proudly displayed in my home.  I still have the bracelet.  It’s tucked away with some pictures of my Pops from when he was in the Army.  Pictures of my Pops, a man who answered when his country called.  A bracelet with the name of a man I never knew who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

-K-

Valor, Sacrifice, and the American Soldier

Clinton Romesha and the Battle of Command Outpost Keating

We can easily follow, friend, and like somebody we don’t even know these days with a swipe of a finger, yet many of us don’t know much about the individuals serving our country overseas.  Regardless of politics and personal beliefs about the government it is vital to take a moment now and again to think about these men and women who serve, and to try and understand what they experience.  Clinton Romesha’s Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor is a remarkable book that provides a harrowing account of the courage and sacrifice of American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor recounts the events of the fourteen hour battle between U.S. forces and Taliban insurgents at Command Outpost Keating in Afghanistan on October 3, 2009. Romesha was vital in the defense of Keating and would lead a counter attack to push back the Taliban.  Many books, essays, documentaries, and such usually approach combat with a reporter’s sense of detachment.  In a few unfortunate instances the topic is approached with sensationalistic melodrama.  Neither is the case with Romesha’s book.  The reader gets to know the soldiers of Red Platoon.  Romesha makes certain that we know these are men with families, friends, and plans for the future.  Knowing these men makes it, at times, difficult to turn the page because we are uncertain about the fates of these soldiers.  The reality of life and death in a combat zone is succinctly expressed by Romesha.  This is a difficult book to put down.  I felt compelled to read on and at times I was afraid to turn the page knowing that some of these brave men did not survive the battle of Keating.

It is important to try to develop an understanding of the experiences that the men and women of our armed forces must deal with.  Clinton Romesha’s Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor provides us with an insight into some of the experiences and a better understanding of the valor and sacrifice of our American soldiers.

-K-

Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor (2016) by Clinton Romesha