A film every American must see
Don’t look for Hollywood hotshots or nifty computer-generated action scenes. It’s all real; no actors, no sets. You’ll hear the soldiers’ conversations; you’ll be alongside them in battle; you’ll experience their fears and their fortitude.
You’ll see that war is more than sound bites and Congressional votes and the discussions of policy pundits; it’s values; it’s service; it’s people. Young people who leave their families to stand courageously for America, for principles, for human rights, and – ultimately – for each other. They are the less than 1% of our country who serve in uniform.
One of the most talked-about issues in civil-military relations is how we can close the knowledge gap between the military and the society it serves. The movie Citizen Soldier is an essential step in that direction. It is on that very short list of films that every American must see. Not should see, but must see.
Thankfully, we live in a country where people still have the freedoms other societies can only dream about — freedom born and kept through real courage and heart-breaking sacrifice – like that of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Oklahoma National Guard.
Last night I had the privilege of seeing this truly extraordinarily well-made documentary about that team’s deployment to Afghanistan at a special screening at the United States Navy Memorial in DC. It delivers on what it promises:
A modern day Band of Brothers, Citizen Soldier tells the true story of a group of young Soldiers and their life-changing tour of duty in Afghanistan, offering an excruciatingly personal look into modern warfare, brotherhood, and patriotism. Using real footage from multiple cameras, including helmet cams, these Citizen Soldiers give the audience an intimate view into the chaos and horrors of combat and, in the process, display their bravery and valor under the most hellish of conditions.
This up-close glimpse of what real combat looks like offers a very sobering (and often gut-wrenching) perspective of the costs of decisions made inside the Beltway. It isn’t an anti-war or, for that matter, pro-war film, but rather one that informs what war is, and what it demands of those who go in harm’s way.
Anyone who takes their citizenship seriously in America needs to make it their business to see this film. Were it in my power to do so, I would require every political leader (and those who aspire to be) to watch it. They owe it to the young Americans who are giving everything they have in order to carry out what their country is asking them to do.