So what now? Here we are in the wake of the great American Sniper schism and what do we all do now? At this point a couple of things have happened. Millions have seen American Sniper and the vast majority of the reaction is pretty universal. Veterans have walked away feeling more or less that the movie captures well the struggles of both home and war. Civilians have walked away expressing a certain amount of reverence and appreciation for what Veterans have endured. Then you have the Michael Moore wing that basically, well, I’ll get to that in a few minutes. However, this schism has dominated the media over the past week and now America has to decide what to do next. You see, to me a powerful movie doesn’t just elicit powerful emotions, but powerful actions. If emotions were all that were needed, we could just have America watch the Bubba death scene in Forrest Gump all day. Love that movie. However, we will know just how powerful this movie is by the action that it elicited in its aftermath.
Entertainment, Sad Dog Commercial, or Call to Action
To me, those are really the options for what American Sniper could be in its aftermath. Now, truth is, there is nothing wrong with it being any of these. All of these may very well have their purpose in the media and whatever this movie happens to be so be it. However, the fun thing is that you don’t have to let Clint Eastwood or Bradley Cooper determine this for you. Rather, you with your own mind gets to take in the film and decide by virtue of your actions what this film will be. The fate lays in your hands. Forrest Gump is an extremely entertaining movie for me. It is a moving yet hilarious capture of all things Gump. I actually wrote one of my first blogs about 6 months ago on the topic. However, I recognize Forrest Gump for what it is. Namely, its entertainment.
Now, when I say Sad Dog Commercial, I hope you know what I mean. A sad song plays while someone videotapes starved and beaten dogs as they encourage you to donate money. Now here is the thing about that. I like dogs. Moreover, I think dogs should be neither starved or beaten. However, I have never given one cent to help that cause. Why? Because it is a sad commercial, but it doesn’t elicit my action. Personally, I am always wondering why they don’t put down the camera and give those dogs a milk bone or something. However, I get it, they are making a commercial. But in the end, I always just refer to it as Sad Dog Commercial. To be honest, Jenny’s death scene in Forrest Gump always makes me more sad. Love that movie. Seriously though, don’t beat your dogs.
The Crazy Wing
Before we get to call to action, let me detour back to Michael Moore. You see, he and another element of America has created an entire other category. Specifically, American Sniper could be the Nazi propaganda film about coward murderers. Now, when this news broke earlier this week, I was tempted to comment and write a little about it myself. However, with the whole nation talking about and getting commentary from Medal of Honor winners, actual snipers, and apparently even Superman, aka, Dean Cain, I thought I would just hold off for a minute. I am a Marine Veteran Grunt of Iraq circa 2003, but my experience was somewhat benign and my only real claim to fame was hitchhiking through Iraq.
You see, in my view, the segment of our society that calls Chris Kyle a murdering invader is not only maligning him, but all Veterans. And what this segment of society doesn’t understand is that not only do the experiences of Veterans vary wildly, but also do their opinions of the War. Believe it or not, if you ask Iraqi War Veterans if the war itself was worth it, you will get a range of answers. However, if you ask them are they proud of their service, are they proud of the men and women they served with, and would they do it again, you get an almost unanimous and resounding yes. You see Michael Moore, we are not a simple as you attempt to paint us. Rather, we are simply directly informed on what War is actually like and what it takes to fight it. So whereas there are a lot of smart minds typing commentary that Warriors should hate what they do, to me that is nothing but ignorance bathed in intellectualism.
Lastly, I am just going to say that I think this wing is just stupid. I mean, like, just the worst. I am not going to go too far into personally attacking them because they have already been cursed and threatened at length online. Consequently, unless I made up an entirely new curse word like Flugatard, or something, I really wouldn’t have anything to add. They have their right to their opinions and they shouldn’t die because of them. Rather, they should just live in their ignorance until they hopefully one day spend a little time with real Veterans to become informed on the matter. Still though, they can go Flugatard themselves if they feel the need to keep commenting on the matter.
Call to Action
Ok, so here is where the true impact of American Sniper will be told. I mean, an Oscar is nice and all, but if you allow me to be frank, an Oscar doesn’t put food in the mouth of a veteran or keep a barrel out of it. I choose to be frank because while 22 Veteran’s a day are committing suicide, we don’t really have time for too much small talk. I believe civilians are great people. However, I do believe our society as a whole stopped paying attention to the recent wars somewhere in the mid 2000’s. Consequently, if American Sniper as placed this back in your minds, the question to you is now what.
Will you be merely entertained or will you treat this movie like a Sad Dog Commercial. If Google is correct, because I never actually watch it, the Oscars are one month away. In my opinion, this honestly means we have limited time. For after the initial rush of the movie is over and the Oscars come and go, so could it be with the attention American Sniper has garnered for Veterans. However, it doesn’t have to be so. If you have watched this movie and it made you feel like you wanted to do something, then let me throw this novel idea out to you. Do something.
What to Do
An easy place to start would be supporting a variety of the Veteran led charities out there. You see, from early on, Veterans realized the need to look out for one another. After all, Chris Kyle died trying to help a fellow Veteran. There are large organizations such as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America which are excellent. However, don’t forget that wars are often won on the fire team level. Smaller non-profits like The Warfighter Foundation are stepping up and emerging to join in the fight.
The Warfighter Foundation is currently partnering with Combat Everest to take wounded veterans on a trek to the base camp of Mount Everest. That’s right. While this Veteran is sitting on his couch eating hot wings, Veterans will with amputated limbs will be climbing Mount Everest. I feel the sudden urge to go do PT. Check out The Warfighter Foundation at www.warfighterfoundation.org However, it doesn’t have to just be charity. If you are an employer, then hire a Veteran who might lack the experience for which you normally look in your particularly industry. I promise you that you will find them quickly able to adapt. New Orleans has somehow given every homeless Veteran a home and other civic organizations are joining in the fight. However, it is not limited to all this. Do a little research, talk to some Veterans, and find a way to actually do something.
Lastly, I just want to speak to my fellow Veterans. Look, you all are well aware of the motto, “Expect No Mercy from your Enemies and No Help from Your Friends.” Here is thing fellow vets, maybe America joins in the fight, or maybe after the Oscars they move on. However, you already know this all too well. So my suggestion to you is start living a life of purpose today. Purpose abounds here stateside and there is a new phase of life to be conquered. Don’t spend too much time waiting on the rest of America to get it. Rather, adapt, overcome, and pursue this next phase of life with passion and purpose. I know it might be rough now, but I promise you when you hit that sweet spot, you will know it and your life will take off from there. Keep swinging and stay in the fight. A future without precedent awaits you.
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