By Marsha M. Brown
Every year I look forward to watching the Academy Awards program and especially this year. I had no doubt that the movie ‘American Sniper’ would take the majority of – if not all of the six Oscars it had been nominated for. My ‘sweetie pie’ Billy (Vietnam veteran) and I both expected the remarkable story of U. S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle who had written his story in the book ‘American Sniper’ (before its transformation onto the silver screen) would scoop up one Oscar after another. As you know Chris was killed on American soil only two years after his four deployments to Iraq. The movie depicted his incredible marksmanship skills of course but it also told the story of a man who loved his family, his country, the ‘brothers’ he fought to protect and that he was a man of faith.
I was confident that his story would bank up the golden statues. The thought only vaguely crossed my mind that other competing movies could beat ‘American Sniper’ out. Billy, though positive it deserved every nomination win hands down, obviously wasn’t so sure the majority of Academy voting members would share our sentiments. He was concerned that while the trophies of merit were just a ‘thing’…they were only symbols of the real truth…and that ‘American Sniper’ could somehow be by-passed or overlooked. I thought to myself no way…the overwhelming box office sales had far exceeded ANY of the competing films clearly proving enormous public interest and favor…surely Chris Kyle’s character, patriotism, loyalty, commitment to save American lives and his persission and skill under extreme conditions would generate all the support and votes necessary to win among the Hollywood elite.
As the presenters announced the nominees and movie clips were shown…one by one, ‘American Sniper’ was side stepped even having had nominations that included ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Actor’ (Bradley Cooper) and more…shockingly though, it only won one Oscar…for ‘Best Sound Editing’…R-E-A-L-L-Y? You have got to be kidding! I thought. I looked at my Billy, a man like so many Vietnam veterans who fully and unequivocally understood disappointment after faithful, dedicated service to our country and I began to tear up. What a let down. I couldn’t help it. I appreciated the other movies in the running and all the work that went into writing, directing and producing them; I also considered that one focused on the debilitating disease A.L.S. and another contender was about deteriorating memories and the heartbreak of Alzheimer’s. Even still, only an award for sound editing? I’m still in shock.
We went to bed that night and I felt bad. I felt let down that a truly deserving story about sacrifice, honor, dedication and love of country wasn’t celebrated in the way I personally felt was warranted. I considered the blood, sweat and tears each veteran has donated to the cause of freedom, choice, opportunity that even enables us to have such an event as the Academy Awards where a majority rules by individual vote rather than by dictation.
A week has passed since then and it seems that box office sales for ‘American Sniper’ continue to amaze. Songs have been written/recorded about Chris Kyle too. If you’d like to hear one of them, you can go online and search YouTube ‘Hearts I Leave Behind’ In Memory of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield…the song is beautiful but caution…grab some tissues first. Also after calling several stores to find out the expected release date of ‘American Sniper’ on DVD, I learned that because of its popularity the DVD’s won’t be on sale until mid to the end of June!! Obviously a gazillion fans and veteran supporters from around the world appreciate stories of American heroism and that beats the heck out a mantel loaded with Oscars to dust off any old day! Because of ‘American Sniper’ and the incidents following his book and the movie, more attention to veterans and those who help veterans seem even more at the forefront. That being said…all veterans deserve praise for countless reasons but the most important? that you cared about protect your country and our people regardless of your personal investment or cost. Thank you.
Now…CALLING ALL VETERANS! Your help is desperately needed! Dedicated veterans who have faithfully walked and carried rifles & flags in the annual Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade (this year on Sunday, March 15th at 1:00 PM) truly need your help.Our older veteransare finding it more difficult than ever to walk. These older gentlemen would be grateful and proud to see you take part too. P-L-E-A-S-E volunteer! Members of the American Legion Post 26, V.F.W. Post 10950 and the Marine Corp League would appreciate honorably discharged vets to join in even if you aren’t currently a member of the organizations. They need able bodied men and women VETERANS period. Their need is immediate and understandably legitimate. Also, if you’re a member of a car club and you have a convertible to drive (or to be driven) in the Parade, please let American Legion Commander Clarence Lewis (252) 305-1934, Billy or myself know. Come on younger and able bodied veterans…show your support and gratitude for your older comrades! This is a chance for citizens of all ages to see our veterans and to salute you as you pass by in the procession. Let folks celebrate YOUR service and YOUR sacrifice to our country.
Special mention!…Some time ago I wrote about Frank Miller, owner of the Hatterasman Drive In located in Hatteras Village. Frank, a veteran himself, has a 24/7 desire to reach out to, welcome and honor veterans who live, work and visit Hatteras Island. His vision to create a Veteran’s Memorial onsite is coming to life! Frank told me this week that he will host the Veteran Memorial Dedication Saturday, March 21st at 1:00 PM (rain date the following Saturday, March 28th 1:00 PM). Over the next few weeks I will elaborate further on Frank’s military history and why this project means so much to him personally. Please mark your calendar now and plan a trip to the Hatterasman Drive In located 57449 Hwy. 12, Hatteras, N.C. 27943. Also, Billy and I will be at the event to issue Dare County Veteran I. D. Cards that day. Please plan to attend, join in the celebration of the men and women who have served our country and help show a man who deserves honor himself that you appreciate what he has done to honor you. More info is forthcoming.
Stay abreast of GIG LINE…because V.F.W. Post 10950 is currently underway with plans for a very special event to celebrate their 25th Anniversary. More news on that soon.
Another thing…the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council with the help of other local vets (like Tim Willis) are steadfast in their quest to acquire more Veteran I. D. Card business participants…keep reading GIG LINE for new business sign ups soon. You’re going to be surprised…I promise!
And more…Chris Sawin, Director of Dare Arts Council is actively engaged in seeking opportunities to promote our Dare County veterans too…oh my goodness…I can’t wait until I can elaborate further!
Got your Dare County Veteran I. D. Card? If not, call me (252) 202-2058 for a schedule of times and places to get yours. Remember, we need to see two things: your DD-214 showing that you were honorably discharged (we do not keep a copy), as well as your local Driver’s License or picture I.D./proof of local residency. In the meantime, check out the Dare County website or www.darenc.com – scroll across for Departments & Services – then scroll down for Veteran’s Office a great place to find more local veteran info.
Until next time, be happy, be safe and be proud…of yourselves and your ‘brothers and sisters’. Let us know how we can help you or a veteran you know who needs help. Please keep sending your poems, forwards, stories and comments. We love and appreciate you all so much and we appreciate that you take the time to read GIG LINE. God bless you for all that you have done for all of us who live in the greatest nation on earth. Stay tuned.