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February 21, 2009

HBO Film “Taking Chance” And Honoring The Fallen

Tonight the film “Taking Chance” premiers on HBO (8pm est). The film tells the story of two Marines who never met in life but whose lives became forever connected after one of them fell in battle in Iraq.

The movie is based on LtCol Michael R. Strobl’s story of escorting the body of Lance Corporal Chance Phelps home to his final rest.

LtCol Strobl’s story begins…

Chance Phelps was wearing his Saint Christopher medal when he was killed on Good Friday. Eight days later, I handed the medallion to his mother. I didn’t know Chance before he died. Today, I miss him.

If you haven’t read the letter that began it all, you owe it to yourself to do so. Naturally Blackfive has more on the story, including a note from the corpsman who was with Chance when he was killed.

Despite fears that the movie would take a political turn people who have seen the film don’t seem to think it has in anyway. My DVR is set.

As for the second part of the story, the media and the left (but I repeat myself) have been agitating for years to show the return of soldiers KIA at Dover Air Force Base. Right now the policy, which dates back to the Bush 41’s term, is under review.

While the press claims they have a right to be there (they don’t) it’s clear there’s another group, members of the military, who seem to be ignored by those who have a ghoulish fascination for flag draped coffins.

MCQ (again at Blackfive) makes this point well.

What the military does at Dover isn't something just prescribed by some regulation or manual. It is something done because it is the right and honorable thing to do. It's is the last private and intimate act the military community as a whole renders its lost family member before it turns them over to the public at large. It is, in reality, the final goodbye, a ceremonial relinquishment of their fallen comrade to the nation at large. From that point onward, the affair is public - as public as the family and news media wants to make it.

And that's what has me puzzled about this media demand to intrude on these intense and intimately private moments at Dover. The argument is that filming and photographing the flag covered transfer cases as they arrive in Dover will drive home the real cost of war, and Americans have a right to know that. Of course there are plenty of pictures which are now in the public domain, shot and smuggled out of Dover which will make that point, if necessary. There's really not any necessity to have more of what will look precisely like the photos already in existence. They make the point about the cost of war as well as any new pictures might.

Some Soldiers Mom” also makes this point through the retelling of her son’s experience escorting his friend home after he was KIA in Iraq.


Now, the military and military families aren’t monolithic and there are certainly diverging opinions about this and every matter within those communities. I just hope that the Department of Defense takes their views into full account when making this decision.

My guess and hope is this will be another case where President Obama confronts a very different reality than candidate Obama operated under. If he does resist calls to open these private honors up to public intrusion, it will be a good sign and there won’t even be any change jokes to be made.

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posted by DrewM. at 03:59 PM

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