In the epic movie, “Saving Private Ryan” U.S. Army Ranger Captain John Miller (actor Tom Hanks) is about to die while carrying out the mission of bringing Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) back from the front lines. After an action-packed drama that included defending a strategically important bridge, Miller is mortally wounded by the very German soldier he earlier spared. In his last moments, Captain Miller leans over Private Ryan and slowly says. “James….earn this. Earn it.”
The acclaimed movie which won several Academy Awards and set box office records reminds us how precious our freedom is. The movie is noted for its real life portrayal of war and for its gruesome effects. By the time the movie ends, you can’t help but think of the cliché we so often hear that “Freedom is never free!”
Unlike Janis Joplin who once sang, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”, Captain Miller did have something to lose, and he lost his life defending freedom. While Tom Hanks and Matt Damon are actors with the drama played out on a movie screen, the real drama of defending our freedom occurs every day in the real world with our troops across the country and in several hot spots throughout the world. The real drama is one where our troops are daily putting their lives on the line for our freedom.
Whenever I see a movie like “Private Ryan” and especially at this time year when Veteran’s Day comes around, I think of my own brother who recently retired after 20 years active duty in the U.S. Air Force and Reserves. My brother flew over 2,500 missions as a C-140 & C-130 pilot. Many of his missions to troubled spots across the globe included such countries as Bosnia, Kuwait, Somalia, Ruanda, Iraq, Afghanistan, and others. We always knew something was going on when he went on a mission because his role was logistics and making sure that troops, equipment and supplies were delivered on time. Often, the real danger had passed, but there were times such his 220 combat missions and 54 combat support missions where he didn’t tell us the whole story. He just went about his business in the right way. He, like most of our troops; quietly served his country. He served us well.
So on this Veterans Day, let’s remember to honor our veterans. I’m doing this by again thanking my brother for having served us. If you know a veteran, don’t forget to thank them for their service. Every day veterans are out there defending our freedom. And doing it well.
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Director Market Development
Smet Construction Services, Inc.