The screening of BRAVO! to nearly two hundred attendees last week in Moscow, Idaho, co-sponsored by the University of Idaho’s Operation Education and the Department of English, was an amazing experience for co-producers Betty and Ken Rodgers. We were enthusiastically received and got to taste the flavor of campus life at the University of Idaho.
We were received on Wednesday evening by our hostess, journalist and author Julie Titone. Julie, along with her former husband, the recently-deceased Grady Myers, co-authored a book about Vietnam titled Boo-Coo Dinky Dow, My Short Crazy Vietnam War. You can find out more about the book here.
Thursday morning, Betty and Ken met with Ed McBride of Operation Education and talked about the upcoming events in which they were to participate, followed by a stimulating session with Dr. Anna Banks’ documentary film class where we showed clips of BRAVO! and had a great discussion with the students.
For lunch, Betty and I enjoyed the succulent Sublamb gyros from Mikey’s Greek Gyros on Main Street in Moscow.
From there, we met with Laura Pizzo of the English Department for a Q & A session with students of the university. We talked about art, writing and how to simultaneously maintain both a non-writing career and a writing practice.
After that we met with Christine Cavanaugh at the beautifully restored Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre to make sure that BRAVO! would look and sound just right for the following evening’s audience.
We finished up the evening with elegant pizzas—yes, elegant—from Maialina Pizzeria Napoletana just down Main Street from the Kenworthy.
Friday, April 19, we enjoyed lunch with Ed McBride, Dan Button, and members of Operation Education’s advisory council. We also met five disabled veterans of this country’s current conflicts, and it was inspiring to hear these young people talk about how they are overcoming the difficulties they endure as a result of their service in combat zones. Among the tools they use to move forward in life are the educational opportunities afforded by Operation Education and the University of Idaho.
Betty and I then met with a small crowd of listeners at Moscow’s independent bookseller, BookPeople, where we had a discussion about turning the pain of war, the pain of life, into art. Ken read selected poems from his books of poetry.
Mark Spear, principle videographer for BRAVO! and BRAVO! Marines Ron Rees and Mike McCauley joined us for the screening that began at 6:30 PM with an introduction by Dr. Brett Morris, retired Colonel in the United States Air Force and current Director of Internal Strategic Communication at the university. First off was the presentation of the colors by the color guard from the Joint University of Idaho-Washington State University ROTC programs.
This was followed by an a capella singing of the National Anthem by University of Idaho MFA candidate in Creative Writing, Sarah B. Barrett, whose father served in Vietnam.
Moscow’s Mayor Nancy Chaney welcomed both the audience and the filmmakers to the community, and was followed by University Vice-President of Advancement, Chris Murray, who welcomed the attendees on behalf of the University and Operation Education.
Filmmakers Ken and Betty Rodgers then talked briefly about the film.
After the screening, members of the film’s audience and a panel moderated by Dr. Morris discussed war in its many aspects, past, present and future. The panel talked about war and film, war and memory, war and guilt, war and PTSD. Members of the panel (all Marines with combat experience) included Latah County Magistrate William Hamlett, Retired Marine Corps Colonel Bob Wakefield, Mr. Paul Warmbier who is a teacher in the Moscow school system and Marine veteran of the battle of Fallujah in Iraq, and BRAVO! Marines Mike McCauley and Ken Rodgers.
Many thanks to Kim Barnes, Professor of English at the University of Idaho, for her vision, drive and attention to detail that made this screening and its related activities possible and successful. Thanks, too, to others who helped make the BRAVO! screening a success, including UI’s Karen Hunt, Kate Cobb, Max Eberts, Kelly Roberts and Laura Zak, as well as Jennifer Bauer of the Lewiston Tribune/Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
The day after the events at Moscow, Ken and Betty took a needed day off and toured the country–the magnificent Palouse including views from Steptoe Butte, multiple teams of draft animals plowing and harrowing west of Colfax and a visit to thunderous Palouse Falls.
Next up for BRAVO! are two screenings in Sonora, California, at Columbia College on May 18 (Armed Forces Day), 2013. This screening is sponsored by Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 391, Columbia College, and Mike Preston who is a veteran of the Siege of Khe Sanh and a lifetime member of the Khe Sanh Veterans. More details on the Sonora screening at http://www.vietnamveterans391.org/.