The email made the rounds around the Pentagon like wildfire. In it was a poignant story about a Lt. Col. who escorted a fallen Marine from Dover, AFB to his hometown in Dubois, Wyoming. The author managed to describe his journey with just the right amount of detail and respect. Everyone who read it was captivated.
So it was with trepidation that I heard of a movie being made for HBO about Lt. Col. Strobl’s email. The account of PFC Chance Phelps’ journey home had, in a sense, become our story too. Lord only knew what Hollywood would do to it.
It was beautiful.
The tone of the original email was somehow preserved in the tranisition to the big screen. Kevin Bacon (playing Lt. Col. Strobl) was simply phenomenal. He didn’t say much during the movie, but he didn’t have to. His facial expressions were enough, revealing the emotions of each heart-rending event along the way.
In the end, the story is about the connection each of us shares with those who fight in distant lands to keep us safe. It is about the grief and sadness that hits us when a cherished life is lost. And it is about the dignity that each fallen warrior deserves – and receives – on the journey home.
It is a story that has been told countless times. Each is similar in some ways, and unique in others. But they’re all personal, and they’re all ours.