Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Archive for September 4th, 2012

Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Khe Sanh,Khe Sanh Veteran's Reunion,Marines,Vietnam War

September 4, 2012

Why I Fight

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Last Friday afternoon we screened BRAVO! to over one-hundred-thirty viewers at the Sheraton Pentagon Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, at the annual Khe Sanh Veterans Reunion.

Big thank-yous are due to the Khe Sanh Veterans Reunion, Tom Eichler, Neil Kenny, as well as the staff of the hotel. Special thanks are in order also to big BRAVO! supporters Betty and Lee Plevney who underwrote the costs of the screening. Greg (Delta Company, 1/26) and Connie Gibbons and Mark (Charlie Company, 1/26) and Elaine Kramer and Bravo Marines Ron Exum and Tom Steinhardt also deserve hearty Ooooorahs! for their help in staging the screening.

This screening was the second time the movie has been shown at the reunion and the crowd was made up of new viewers and previous viewers too.

Most of the viewers were affiliated with the Khe Sanh Veterans organization, but there were other guests too, who saw BRAVO! for the first time including supporter and short story author extraordinaire, Siobhan Fallon, whose book of short stories, You Know When the Men Are Gone, is a wrenching and enlightening look at the price a family pays when their loved ones go off to war.

Every time we screen BRAVO! special things happen. We meet people who were at Khe Sanh who give us a unique take on the experience of siege warfare, old comrades emerge from the depths of memory to eat BBQ in the chair next to us, new friends show up and spark the internal magnets that form the bonds that tie us all together, no matter our nationality, our political opinions, our language, our race.

The man who helped Betty and Connie and Greg and Mark and Elaine and I set up the screening room and the equipment was from Ethiopia and has been in the Washington, DC, area for about one year. I noticed he spoke excellent English and I said so. He told me he had gone to school in Great Britain where he was educated in the film milieu.

He went back to Ethiopia to make documentary films but evidently made a film that angered the government.

As he told me this story, I thought about all the people who come to this country and what we represent to the world. Not only are we a money generating machine, a jobs caldron, we are also a beacon of respite and opportunity in a world of mayhem.

I often ponder why I joined the Marine Corps back in 1966. It is okay now to say I was a big patriot (whether or not I really was) back then, but for a long time it wasn’t cool to be patriotic. I may have been patriotic to some degree, but I was also curious to find out about combat and to see if I could match up to the demands of fighting in the greatest unit of light infantry the world has ever seen.

Yes, I often ponder why I fought the war in Vietnam and today, thinking about the documentary filmmaker from Ethiopia who can’t go home because of what he said, I choose to say that the biggest reason I fought in Vietnam with Bravo Company, 1/26, was so folks like our Ethiopian filmmaker can come here and speak what they believe, no matter who it irritates.