In 2007, seasoned war reporters Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger embedded with Second Platoon, Battle Company, 173rd Airborne during their deployment to the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, which at the time was the deadliest place on earth for American soldiers. They documented Second Platoon's experience and were published in a sobering and excellent January 2008 Vanity Fair article which (in complete seriousness) should be required reading for all citizens of the United States.
During their time with Second Platoon, they also kept a video camera rolling and this past summer released a documentary titled RESTREPO, after the outpost Second Platoon built and defended during the length of their deployment. The film, which has been showing at the Kentucky Theater all week and will be released on DVD and Blue Ray on November 30, has been met with rave reviews and won the Sundance Film Festival's Best Documentary award this year. Here's a good Huffington Post article written in this past June about the film.
What's that? You don't think you'll watch the film? Why should you see this film, you ask? Because you are an American, that's why. You say this sort of stuff doesn't interest you? Good one. I can think of no better way to insult our soldiers than to say that. It's too graphic, too sad, war stuff bothers me. Please let me run and get you a tissue. Bothers you? The soldiers of Second Platoon lived 15 months what you'll see for a brief 90-minutes. Their friends were shot and killed as they watched on. They, now, today, as I write this, take sleeping pills, anti-depressants, have nightmares, feel injuries, run pictures through their minds... their experiences at OP RESTREPO will never leave them. And they did what they did, and what they continue to do, defending you. That's right, you.
You may think RESTREPO is just a film, but it's not. It's way more than a film or a movie. It is 90 minutes of reality for thousands of US soldiers who have fought and died since 2001 to protect our nation and our people. RESTREPO lives every moment in the minds of those who have seen combat and lost dear friends. It should stir emotions in you, it should hurt you... it is their reality, each and every day.
What does all this have to do with our National Security Policy class? It's simple. The disconnect between our public and our military is vast and tears at the very fabric of our country's foundation. Nothing could be more dangerous to our national security than to have an uninformed public who elects leadership that does not understand the costs and consequences of war. RESTREPO seeks to start to bridge that gap. The film is not political. You'll notice not one politician or diplomat is interviewed during the film, only the soldiers directly related to Second Platoon. RESTREPO is the soldier's experience alone, and thus, a window for the public to see the direct, real results of our country's policy actions, carried out everyday. Agree with the war or not, this film shows reality and leaves you to decide the rest.
Ernest Hemingway reminds us to "never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime."
If you read this post and do not subsequently take action to increase your understanding of what our soldiers go through in Afghanistan, then my friend, you are part of the problem. Plain and simple. The greatest threat to our national security is the ignorance and apathy of our people. Go see RESTREPO.