Bargell: The legacy of ‘Fury’
It wasn’t exactly a date-night movie. The reviews pulled no punches, claiming “Fury” is a suitably raw depiction of the horrors of war. Still, it was chance to escape the house, and my reality, for a few hours, so off we went.
The story told is nearly 70 years old. No detailed or drawn-out plot. Time back then was far too short. “Fury” gives a brief glimpse into the lives, and the deaths, of men who called a Sherman tank their home during the waning days of WWII. It is violent and haunting, and it depicted a reality that I soon wanted to escape.
The chance movie encounter with the historic military reminded me that only a week before I was touched by a different story, about a local program serving veterans of more recent wars. Since 2008, volunteers and businesses in our community have put together the Wounded Warriors Family Ski Week in Breckenridge, providing a mountain escape to individuals who have served, and to their families. The brainchild of local Vietnam veterans, the week focuses on giving recreational-therapy opportunities to soldiers severely wounded in combat. It is unique in that families are included. The fury of war imprints not only the soldiers, but also their loved ones. The presentation was poignant, featuring a new generation of soldiers, battered and sometimes still battling demons that refused to dissipate when they returned home. Veterans, not surprisingly, feel isolated when they are formally disconnected from their military family. Civilian life offers an entirely different set of challenges to the men and women trained to live in fury.
Nearly the same day a friend recounted a trip he’d recently made to the Colorado Veteran’s Home in Rifle, Colorado. There, with two young sons in tow, his family listened to the stories of aging veterans and the tales of fury they had lived. He exclaimed they have earned the distinction of being called the Greatest Generation, and marveled at how much there was to learn from their stories.
It hit me then that it’s no coincidence these reminders of our servicemen and women came when they did. Next week marks a special holiday, one that never really captured my attention when I was younger. It is not a day to honor a specific president, or one that necessarily lends itself to the exchange of Hallmark cards. Instead, it is a day that rightly belongs to each of the men and women who have agreed to face fury on our account. A time to remember the young men who never returned from the battlefield, like the boys in “Fury,” to honor the individuals who visit our slopes and to listen to the stories of the soldiers.
Yesterday we cast our ballots. In time, party affiliations will be forgotten and the most pressing issues of the day will pale as new ones arise. But the right to vote, and to speak our minds, we owe to these men and women. In Colorado there are more than 400,000 veterans living among us, including 15,000 survivors of WWII. Gulf War veterans comprise the largest group of Colorado vets, numbering over 150,000. These are people I am certain I encounter on the street, or in passing in the store, without even realizing the work they have done.
Recalling the fury of war, its violent rage and passion, should propel us in the direction of peace. Revering the men and women who willingly ventured into that arena, and thanking them for their service is important to do on Nov. 11 and on every other day of the year.
Contact Cindy Bargell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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