Monday, September 8, 2008

The Iraq Thing

Over the weekend, I got a chance to catch Stop Loss, a drama about Iraq war veterans being called back to duty right before separation. It's a terrific flick, anchored with strong and realistic performances form Ryan Philippe (!) and Abbie Cornish, and what I enjoyed the most was that it was refreshingly non-partisan. I'm not the type of person to scream "Too Soon!" at the top of my lungs when people decide to make movies about 9/11 or the Iraq War, but it is beyond irritating when filmmakers try to teach a lesson rather than tell a story. The interesting thing about Stop Loss was that the most partisan Democrat or Republican you could find could each take something from it, and it occurred to me that it works because the story is uniquely American. I was also the victim of the stop-loss policy, but thankfully I was only extended 90 days and allowed to return to the states from Iraq to exit the military.

These movies always seem to have a strange effect on me. I wouldn't say that I enjoy them, but I'm always left in a weird state after I watch them. I don't enjoy the war sequences that are choreographed like action movies, but I do realize their necessity. I was there. I made it through the storm, and the only thing I can think of when I watch these movies is why I made it when others didn't. Why do others suffer post-traumatic stress disorder when I don't? Why was my most severe injury a fractured toe when so many others have lost limbs? Why am I still here? Perhaps that will end up being one of the great unanswered questions of my life. I want a lot out of life. I'm driven to succeed because I was given a second chance, and when the big guy gives you another chance you don't waste it. I promise not to waste it.

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