By Ms. Lacey Justinger (USAG Hawaii)November 3, 2008
American military history was brought to life with raw war footage, grainy photographs and candid interviews when Roger Sherman screened his newest documentary, Medal of Honor, at the El Paso Plaza Theatre for a crowd of Fort Bliss Soldiers, retired military and local civilians.
Community members gathered in excited groups on the sidewalk when the featured guests, Fort Bliss Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, pulled up in buses and gathered in-formation before entering the theater. With a few speeches thanking these Soldiers, their co-patriots and sponsors, the lights dimmed and the show started.
Laughter broke out many times throughout the 90 minute film while the tears were shed in silence. The documentary explored the history of the Medal of Honor since its inception during the Civil War until Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
The film celebrated the individual and unique characteristics of the men. The Hungarian immigrant who survived a Jewish concentration camp described how his Sergeant called for the funny talking Jew and assigned him to guard a hill against opposing Chinese forces during the Korean War. A Navy Officer from Pearl Harbor recalled how he awoke on that Sunday morning to gunfire and had to scramble to find his pants.
Several said they weren't thinking of honor and sacrifice, in fact they weren't thinking at all. If they would have been thinking they would have run in the opposite direction rather then repeatedly return to fulfill their mission.
Sherman presented the unique perspective that the Medal of Honor criteria seems to oppose standard military protocol: all the honorees were "mavericks" who disobeyed direct orders and military training to protect the Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Coast Guardsman or Marine who stood next to them.
All the interviewees seemed to agree on one thing: they never set out to receive the Medal of Honor. Anyone who does is crazy. Though many felt that they didn't deserve the recognition, they wear it for all those who serve and for all those who have fallen.
A hidden gem only mentioned once in the film was the equalizing power of the Medal of Honor. It negates all rank distinctions. A private awarded the Medal of Honor is saluted by the highest General. Presidents stand in their presence. It is the highest honor an armed services member can receive and it recognizes a "risk of life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States."
This film describe unthinkable acts of bravery, strength and in most cases a stubborn refusal to quit, to surrender, to listen to good reason or common sense. This is an intimate glimpse into war and the instantaneous decisions that Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Marines make that influence and change multiple lives and seeing it will should the viewers' outlook on life and the heroes in them.
The film will be broadcast on the local PBS channel, KCOS-TV, on Nov. 5 at 8:30 p.m.