On Seeing The Lone Survivor

September 11, 2001 changed everything in my generation’s world and for those generations after me. Our parents grew up with Vietnam, Korea, witnessed a Presidential assassination, the blatant murder of several civil rights leaders, lived in fear of the Cold War, and more. Their parents grew up with World War II and some even with World War I. Our generation knew peace. Well, we knew peace as well as one could know peace, comparatively speaking. We knew peace until September 11, 2001 when it chaos flew home to roost in one of our biggest metropolitan areas.

With planes grounded, the backdrop hum they provided to our everyday lives disappeared. People stayed home watching the horror unfold on TV, our hearts ripped open and bleeding before the world, a country brought to her knees in riveting plumes of technicolor.

The silence of the day still haunts me.

That day, there were those among us who felt called to duty. There were those who fought on the front lines in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania as they rescued survivors and recovered the wreckage of our freedom now buried beneath the rubble. But there were more to follow – those who would find themselves in the midst of foreign lands, holding a weapon pointed at men who did not speak our language and preferred our deaths over their own lives.

These people who were called to duty are still over there. Perhaps not physically, but they are still there, echoing across the mountainsides and deserts, their souls entrenched in the hillsides on which they fought. For it is in these foreign lands that many of them finally found their brothers, and for many, it is where they lost their brothers.

The Lone Survivor is a tale of brothers who fought like hell on a mountainside in Afghanistan during a reconnaissance mission gone horribly wrong. It’s a major motion picture now, one I sat in a comfortable theatre today and watched. I saw “Murph, The Protector” last year, a film about Michael Murphy, one of the brothers lost on that mountainside as he called for help for the others knowing he was sacrificing his own for their safety. According to the documentary, that’s just the way Michael Murphy operated. He was the protector.

Luttrell, the lone survivor, made it out alive thanks to a small Afghan village’s code of honor known as Pashtunwali, which requires them to protect the weak and provide asylum to those in need, defending them against their enemies at all cost. Luttrell was confused as to why these Afghans were helping him but when he was rescued, he took the time to thank them (in the movie, at least – I have not read the book).

As I drove home after watching the most intense military movie I have ever seen, I was numb. I finally cried after I arrived home and pulled the car into the garage. Then, I gathered my things, sighed, and got out of the car. I needed funny. Comedy Warriors was on Showtime and for that, I was grateful. Balance.

Two hours and one minute in a movie theatre.

Not even in the same ballpark (or hell, solar system) as what today’s active duty military go through on a daily basis as they continue to flush out the enemy who landed chaos on our soil on September 11, 2001. These brave men and women push their bodies and minds beyond their limits so that we may be free, so that others may be free. They fight so that those who are weaker may live to see another day. For that, I am eternally grateful and they will always have my respect.

Thank you.


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