Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day: 5 Requests + 12 Film Suggestion in Honor of Warriors


In having worked my entire professional life with every manner of trauma survivor and quite often persons wounded by war–civilian and service members–I ask for a remembering of what is always given in the fields and deserts and jungles of war and I ask for a remembrance of the soul wounds carried by everyone who lives through war (externally and internally). The reverberations of war will last in a person for a lifetime of memories and often, nightmares.

In honor of the hundreds of people I have met and worked with who have suffered from the experience of war I thought I would pass along a few tid bits for the civilians who try to honor them this weekend ahead.


  1. Do something on Memorial Day that memorializes the lives and souls that struggled through war and the ones who made it out alive but not necessarily whole (mind, body, and/or spirit)Understand, however, that most of the people who need those supports, prayers, and rememberences will likely NOT be at the parades you attend or fireworks displays or community events. This day, in many ways, is very much for those who did not serve to help them, you, understand and remember the sacrifices of lives and spirits lost in battle. The people who suffered the experience remember, memorialize the experience every day they live–in their minds and hearts the scalding imprint is never far.
  2. Say “thank you for your service” to a veteran you know or a stranger. Whatever your politics or belief system about war, the people who served still deserve thanks and prayers. Understand that your thanks are always appreciated, but can often be a mixed blessing to someone who served.Understand that it may be hard for them to hear these words as there are so many conflicted emotions behind hearing those words for many.
  3. This one is in honor of this weekend, but pretty much an all-the-time everyday plea. Never, please, never ask a veteran “Did you kill anyone?” That question is the reason many veterans do not disclose their status as service members, to avoid that question…and (unfathomable as it may be) it is the thing they are (almost) always asked first. It is just an all-around unpleasant thing to answer–so please don’t ask.
  4. Remember: not all veterans are men and many women find themselves on the front-lines of war.To learn more about this experience you can watch “The Lioness”…a great film about the experience of the Iraq war from some tough women who can and do, equally, suffer from issues like PTSD and reintegrating into the civilian world.
  5. War impacts everyone it touches all manner of people finding themselves on the front lines of wars away from or in their homelands around the globe: men/women, mothers/fathers, children, civilians/service members. Take this weekend to, intentionally, say a prayer, do an act of service, or write a blog post/article reminding people of their stories.

Ten Recommended Films for The General Public wanting to understand more about the experience of war …
  1. War Horse: A profound story that speaks to every angle of the impact of war through the journey of a horse in WWI. Having worked together with veterans and horses this movie was especially profound for me, personally.
  2. Band of Brothers (miniseries): Follows a unit through WWII experience on the front lines.
  3. Apocalypse Now: Painfully realistic depiction in the jungles of Vietnam.
  4. The Great Santini: What it is like for those who come home from war & the difficulty in family life on the home front.
  5. Operation Homecoming: A documentary film telling the stories written by those returned from Iraq and Afghanistan in a variety of different formats (based on a book of stories from service members of the same name–one of the stories inspired the movie Taking Chance). Tells of the difficulty at war but also of coming home.
  6. The Lioness (listed above): About a unit of women created and named on the front lines of the Iraq war when women troops began serving amongst forward units in combat.
  7. The Lucky Ones: A story of three persons home on leave, traveling the nation, and dealing with many of the everyday people and issues which can be difficult when coming home.
  8. War Dance (international scope of war): A documentary of three African children who dance to find joy and hope in a Uganda refugee camp.
  9. Hotel Rwanda (international scope of war): Shows humanity and bravery amid the Rwandan Genocide.
  10. Schindler’s List (international scope of war): Shows the capacity for one person to change the world during the Holocaust.
  11.  War TornNarrated by James Gandolfini it depicts the struggles of war from 1861-2010 in letters, articles, and other historical documents which illustrate how genuine the wounds of war were, in any and every period of the American human experience.
  12. The Invisible War: Tells the story of when “the battleground is your barracks.” And highlights the other trauma that can happen to service members–military sexual trauma (MST).

All politics, debates, and moral theologies aside on this weekend of remembrance… I ask for a global, universal, boundary-less prayer to the many people who have suffered on all sides of war on every continent. 

If you are, or you know, a veteran in need CALL: The Veteran Crisis Hotline 

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