Yesterday America celebrated Veteran's Day. It was a day set aside to be grateful for those who have served in our Armed Forces, fighting for freedom. But in our celebration, does it occur to us to actually put ourselves in their shoes for a minute?
We hear about it on the news, we see pictures in the paper, but do we really stop and think about it on a more personal level? What does a deployed soldier face when they return from an overseas mission during wartime?
What did that soldier see or hear? What did they feel? What did they experience? Were they afraid? Did they have to kill anyone?
During World War Two there was an air of patriotic spirit all over the United States. Despite a few naysayers, there was a deeply rooted sentiment, especially in the press, that gave our full support to our troops as they fought for freedom.
But then, during the late 1950's and into the 1960's was The Korean War and the Vietnam War. Soldiers who came home from " 'nam" faced more than the issues that pertained to having fought in a war, they also faced some serious and rather inhuman rejection upon returning home.
To this day, most Vietnam War vets still have a sore spot for "Hanoi Jane" (Jane Fonda) and our current secretary of State, John "F'n" Kerry, as they call him, for what they deemed as traitorous acts against the United States while they were out there trying to fight for freedom.
You see, Jane Fonda and John Kerry were both rather mouthy and animated concerning the war effort of Vietnam, they didn't agree with the US being involved, so rather than taking their cause up in the appropriate place and manner, they vomited their disgust on the soldiers instead, calling them murderers and baby killers.
I couldn't help but think about these things while I watched The Best Years of Our Lives, starring Dana Andrews, Hoagy Carmichael, and Harold Russell as three veterans returning home from the war, each with a different issue, each from a different social class.
These three servicemen served their country, watched men die right in front of them, and suffered injury to some degree - one lost his hands, and all had to deal with it and try to keep their chin up. They return home from the traumatic experience of war to find that things are different at home. The kids are bigger, life is different, generally, and people are looking at them funny. Despite that they were in charge of other men and expensive equipment, they find it difficult to use their experiences on their resumes, thus making it hard to find gainful employment.
Do their women still love them? Will they ever be the same again? Will they heal? Have they let their women down? Are they still men? These are the questions they ask themselves as they transition and adjust from being in a war to living in peace at home.
This movie is heartfelt. It made me think about how much our servicemen must go through, and how unappreciated they must feel at times. Too many times I've heard about a man who returns from duty to find that his woman has taken off with another man, or took the kids and went home to mother. How heartbreaking it must be for these men.
I used to know some men, who, if a car drove by and backfired, many of these would duck under the table for cover because of suffering from post traumatic stress. For an instant they were back there, fighting, putting their lives on the line without a personal say in the matter, all for a country that seemed to show little concern for their personal well being.
It is not hard to see why this film was such an award winner - it's definitely a must see for those who have never seen it, and a must see again for those who have.
On Nov 5, Warner Brothers released this remarkable film on Blu-ray for the first time. You can pre-order it today from wbshop online.
About The Release:
The Best Years of Our Lives is out on Blu-ray for the first time November 5th!
- The beloved and award-winning classic presented on BD for the first time with over 430 minutes of Bonus Content.
- Winner of seven Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor.
- Directed by three-time Best Director Oscar winning William Wyler (Mrs. Miniver, Ben-Hur, Best Years of Our Lives).
- William Wyler also received the 4th Lifetime Achievement Award from the AFI in 1976.
- Included in the Top 100 Highest Grossing Films of All Time (#74) $435.6M (adjusted for inflation).
- Starring Fredric March (Inherit the Wind, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Star is Born ‘37) Dana Andrews ( A Walk in the Sun, Laura, The Ox-Bow Incident) Myrna Loy (The Thin Man 1-6, The Great Zeigfeld)
- 1998 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies #37 (2007)
- 2007 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary