On Memorial Day we remember those who have died while serving our country in the armed forces. (Read here for the history of Memorial Day.) If I’m honest, I spend a couple minutes remembering those who have died for my freedom, say a quick prayer of thanksgiving for them, and then I think about the beginning of a long awaited summer and never look back.
This year, I’m determined to do a better job of remembering.
But, what will I remember? My history lessons of long ago have been further informed by books and movies, so in the spirit of our media saturated culture I’ll share some of the books and movies on the subject of wars that have impacted me. They make me more grateful for those who have died for the freedom that we enjoy.
There have been so many books and movies about WWII. Way back in the 80s I read The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk. They are memorable and they gave me a better understanding of battles and the impact of the war on civilians. More recently books like The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, and All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, and a number of others have been good reads.
Schindler’s List was by far the most moving WWII movie I have seen. Again, it was years ago, but I remember Oskar Schindler lamenting that he didn’t save more Jews. And have you seen The Man in the High Castle? That’s what the USA could look like if the war had gone the other way. It’s not a pleasant thought.
I am thankful for our armed forces who fought and died in WWII to defeat Hitler and everything he stood for.
The Korean War
I know very little about the Korean War, other than the fact that the weather was atrocious and what I saw of it on M*A*S*H*. It’s embarrassing. My husband recently read The Frozen Hours, by Jeff Shaara, and I think I’d better read it too. Ignorance notwithstanding, I am thankful for the soldiers who fought and died in Korea.
The Vietnam war is better known for the conflicts that surrounded it than than for the actual war. I was young and clueless when it was going on, so I missed most of the tension surrounding the war. However, I remember watching The Deer Hunter, and it makes sense to me that the following quote is true. “According to a survey by the Veterans Administration, some 500,000 of the 3 million troops who served in Vietnam suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and rates of divorce, suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction were markedly higher among veterans.” Born on the Fourth of July was another movie highlighting the feelings of betrayal of soldiers who fought in that Vietnam. On the recommendation of my son, I also read The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien. It was a book that portrayed the unsettling and confusing experience of war.
Who knows what the world would be like if we had not entered that conflict, but those who fought and died in it deserve our gratitude.
Middle East Wars
I remember when Desert Storm began. I had been shuttling children to after school activities, supervising homework, and making dinner, when my husband came home from work and announced that we had bombed Iraq. It was chilling.
I realize that I haven’t read or seen much about these conflicts, either because the history hasn’t yet been fully written or because the story line is complicated. It’s not a clear good vs. evil plot like WWII was. My husband and I listened to Spoils, a disturbing novel about soldiers in Iraq that confirms my suspicions. I also saw The Hurt Locker, and that too was hard to watch.
I remember the men and women who have died in those conflicts, and there are still soldiers in the Middle East who need our prayers and support.
Thinking over books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen causes me to remember what these men and women have given to this country.
War has always been prevalent in this world, and sadly I don’t see that changing any time soon. The Bible promises to bring peace to the world, and Jesus, prophesied as the Prince of peace, is the answer to that promise. He told his disciples that he came to bring peace, but in this world we would have trouble. History tells us that he was correct. One day, however, Jesus will return to finally bring an everlasting peace.
What are some books or movies that have informed your understanding of conflicts and wars? I’d love to get your recommendations.