Last week, I wrote that I hoped that the writers and producers of "ER" -- which have shamelessly used the show to promote their anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-America agenda -- would "show the funeral and burial of an American Hero that died in service to his country -- a service for which he VOLUNTEERED and for which he gave his all -- that you might treat the soldier's death with respect and dignity... recognizing the valiant and noble effort of our American warriors." I also lamented that we would probably not hear of any of the good things that our soldiers do or about the atrocities and violence perpetrated by the terrorists and jihadis and just plain criminals in Iraq today.
I was bracing for the worst... thankfully, I was only partially right. None of the accomplishments of the Coalition were mentioned and, of course, none of the bad things by terrorists were highlighted either. I was, however, pretty amazed at the restraint shown at Captain (Dr.) Gallant's military funeral. Not just by the writers, but the scenes of the funeral itself.
First, let me say, that I did find the scenes of the funeral tasteful in that the funeral was not used as a political (i.e., anti-anything) statement. I was certainly and pleasantly surprised that Dr. Pratt told the grieving widow that her husband and others like him feel that they can make a difference in the world and that they feel a need to be part of something bigger than themselves. At one point, the widow questions whether her husband's death was noble, but I took that more as the anger of losing her husband and not a statement about whether the goals in Iraq are noble.
Oddly, my reaction was that there wasn't enough grieving at the funeral. I have only been to one military funeral, but it was about the saddest event I have ever experienced in my life. It wasn't just mournful -- it was gut wrenching and heart wrenching and overwhelming grief, especially for the family. Losing a young man in the prime of his life -- to be torn from the grasp of his young wife, his mother, father, friends.... is not only sad, it is -- in the truest sense of the word -- tragic.
However, in this "ER" episode, at the gravesite, the mother is perfectly coifed and her makeup is impeccable. The widow certainly looked sad, but I don't recall seeing either shed a tear. Not when they are sitting at the burial site, not when they hand the widow the flag from her husband's casket, nor when they give (or attempt to give) the wife the soldier's Purple Heart and another medal (perhaps the Bronze Star). I can't imagine that a wife or a mother could maintain their composure under such circumstances. This event in the life of these women is so horrible, shocking and overwhelming that they should have been shown weeping their eyes out and wailing.... but perhaps I am nitpicking here. I am grateful -- ok, maybe just relieved -- that the death of a soldier wasn't used inappropriately in this instance.
And I knew this woman (the widow) and those that write her part didn't and don't "get it" when she confronts the father (a retired career Army Officer) about how he could have kept his son from going back to Iraq... that he could just have easily convinced Captain Gallant to stay home with the ones that loved him. Note to whoever wrote that dialog: people in the military get orders. They go where they're told. Now, I don't watch "ER" enough so maybe I missed that Dr. Gallant had volunteered for another deployment?? But the real point is: there is nothing anyone can say to a soldier -- to a warrior -- that would convince him to not go when that is where he wants to be.... when that is what he feels compelled to do.
I do "get it". I don't pretend to fully understand it, but I accept it. It is what makes warriors so remarkable. They raise their hands, take the oath and say, "This we will defend."
Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2006. All rights reserved.