Friday, May 2, 2008

Last[ing] Impressions ... Sacrifice

I wanna go home, home, home.
I wanna go home.
Can you blame them?

I must admit, after having said I was going to be glad it was over, that I had a very big grin on my face through most of the final episodes. They were really quite good, perhaps almost even the best of the lot. The comment was made at Lex's that perhaps the depth that was missing through most of the series was the emotions and that finally came through in last night's episodes. Perhaps that was it, I'm not sure. But I did really enjoy it.

I sure felt sorry for that ATC officer whose husband decided that the kids couldn't come on the Tiger Cruise. And although I was very glad that it all worked out for her, I can only imagine how much more that muddied some already messy waters for her when she finally got home. I do wish we could have seen a little more of her and children on the Tiger Cruise, though. At any rate, it definitely highlighted that whole issue of custody battles for parents serving in the military. For which, it seems, there are no easy answers.

I also liked how they followed some of the crew members after they had returned home. Even though some of it felt rather voyeuristic. Quite frankly, I can't imagine why the young ordnanceman, Chris Altice, allowed them to film his reunion (of sorts) with his girlfriend. You had to feel bad for the guy. And I certainly did. Say what you will, he was trying.

But I have to say, although I'm sure the six month deployment didn't help the relationship any, anyone looking at it a bit more objectively than he was at that moment had to see that that relationship was likely destined to fail eventually even if he had stayed home. So young. And pregnant after knowing each other for only six months. Although I know it's been done successfully before, that has to be the exception rather than the rule. And perhaps I am being rather unfair to the girl, given that we were never made privy to what was going on her in her mind and in her life during the deployment, but from what we were shown, she did seem pretty immature. I see that according to the website, Altice left the Navy the following year. I wonder if he sees it any differently now.

All in all, I can honestly say that Carrier gave me a new found appreciation and respect for what those who serve give up and how hard that life has to be. When you only read about it, even reading the writings of someone as gifted as Lex is, you only get a partial picture. You read the words, you nod your head in agreement that that must be hard and you move on to something else. But actually watching it (and I do appreciate that this was only 10 hours of a 6 month deployment) pounds the point home, makes you really "get it", I think as much as you can without actually living it (or being directly affected by it) yourself.

I don't know what, specifically, the Navy hoped to accomplish in agreeing to this documentary/reality TV series. Were they seeking to boost enrollment? Or maybe just give Americans a better idea of what they actually do? More appreciation for the sacrifices made by those who join the service?

I suppose it might have some effect on recruiting, that some who would watch it would be moved or otherwise motivated by what they say. Although I tend to think that that number, whatever it might be, would be at least balanced out if not overtaken by those who would get a real sense of the sacrifice involved and decide "That's not for me".

Where I do think it should be really successful is in giving people a much deeper appreciation of the sacrifices that those who serve make. More than a few of the crew members stated that they were doing this "for their families" so the point should come across that there are people willing to live this life to protect other Americans who remain at home. Whether or not a person actually believes that to be true (that the war in Iraq is serving to protect Americans at home), the viewer should get the point that many of those who are living this life and making these sacrifices honestly believe that what they are doing is helping to protect their fellow Americans.

Apparently there are those who see Carrier as just a giant piece of propaganda in favour of the war in Iraq. Which can only lead me to conclude that some can only see what they want to see, what they expect to see, what they need to see. Because, say what you will, it definitely delivered 'warts and all', just as advertised.

To me, and I would like to think that I can look at it a little more objectively than some on either side, overall it looked slightly more biased towards an anti-war message. Not that I found it completely one-sided by any means, but either it effectively showed the reality that many of those in the military are there just because it's a job (now there's a crazy way to make a living if you don't really believe in what you're doing, me thinks) or there was a bias, however, subtle against the actions of the US.

A bias, if that indeed was the case, perhaps not so subtlety displayed here:
“Yet, I don’t see September 11th as an isolated event. The trajectory of history since then — the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the erosion of our civil liberties, the destruction of human rights, Abu Ghraib and the sanctioning of torture to ostensibly ‘win’ the ‘war on terror’ has been one long bitter tragedy filled with death.”
Pamela Yates, Producer In The Field

Well, at least the series did no harm to the Captain's career. I see he was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral last year. Which reminds me, go to the website and take the opportunity to 'Meet the Ccrew' and see what they're up to today.

I see we managed to snag Major Brian Foster, one of the Marine F/A-18 pilots up here in Canada. He's currently serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Personnel Exchange Program and is the operations officer for the 409th Tactical Fighter Squadron in Alberta.

Keep on flying, sir.

Update: Chris Altice. Popular fellow apparently. Personally, I think it was just the sympathy factor. Gurls like that, don't you know... Anyway, he seems to have started a video blog. If you're interested. Me, not so much.

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