Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Hulolo' gi i Saddok

If the new film about John Kerry, "Up River" is playing in your area I highly recommend you watch it. I'm not saying this out of any love for John Kerry. Although I'll probably vote for him, his current political stands don't appeal to me, as there are too many uncomfortable similarities between him and Emperor Bush.

However, the film "Up River" is not about the John Kerry we see today. It is instead about a John Kerry that existed more than thirty years ago. The film isn't really about John Kerry in my opinion, but he is the soul through which the events of that era, Vietnam and the subsequent protests against it are viewed. Through his actions and his statements, as well as the discussions created using Kerry as the context, we see the war in a visceral and almost painful new light, but also see the veterans who protested it in a very human and almost sobering way.

For me the true value of the movie lies in its exploration of how these men were able to protest the war, and how they were able to give up and in a sense come to terms with something which was very much a part of them, whether they liked it or not. One of the film's final scenes is that of Vietnam veteran's throwing away their medals and citations. Thinking about the symbolism of this moment, and the intensity is must have created shakes me to my core. One of the vets interviewed in the film describes how hard it was to throw those medals away even though he knew he had to, because the war was a fraud. But even as men recounted the friends lost, and lives ruined for one of the biggest nothings in recent American history, and they let their medals fly or drop, one could tell that their identities were entangled in this mess. That they were committed and connected to this war in more ways that they could describe and for them to turn away from the rhetoric of it, and call it evil or call it wrong as they did must have taken a strength I can't fathom. So many vietnam vets I encounter have never been able to give up the war, and still defend it, because of what it would mean if they accepted the illegality, immorality and evil of that war.

These Vietnam vets were able to see the wrongness of the war, in some ways come to terms with their own limited responsibility for it, and then understand their further responsibility to end the war and turn the country around.

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