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"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

...............................................................Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Taking Chance

We are a nation forever defining ourself in our journey. The great American experiment. The immigrant voyages to these shores. The cross-country train rides to the frontier. The pioneer treks on oxcart trails and narrow footpaths.

Our culture celebrates the journey--from Wagon Train to boldly going where no one has gone before.

And this Saturday night, we watched another journey, the most basic, the most profound. The journey home.

Taking Chance brings to life the journal of Marine Lt. Colonel Michael Strobl, who volunteered for the duty of escorting the remains of 19-year-old PFC Chance Phelps to his home, his family, his friends, his community. His final resting place.

There is no shrieking shrill of partisans and pundits and politicians and gasbags of talk radio blustering about who was right, who was wrong about the decisions that led to the young man's death in this extraordinary HBO film.

No news cameras and pontificators opining.

There is only and solely the awakening of the Lt. Col. as he meets ordinary people along the way--airline ticket takers, fellow passengers, old vets, a funeral home director, his fellow soldiers. And the family of one fallen Marine. If there was any moment of political commentary, it was the TSA at the first airport, obstructing the Marine's fulfillment of his duty.

Homeland Security. Bureaucracy gone awry.

I wonder if those who are making life and death decisions for our soldiers and Marines right now watched this film. I have no illusion that Bushie and Chee-knee and Rummy and Condi watched or ever will.

I wonder if the CEOs and the Masters of the Universe and the Big Oil execs and the Santellis and the Rush's and Hannitys watched this film tonight.

We own this war, these wars, all of us. And we own this economy and the collapse of the auto industry and the subprime mortgages and the phony free market that is really a pyramid of monopolies. We own them all.

The great ship of our nation is on the shoals of calamity, and each of us, all of us, must do our part to make it sail free again. Setting aside the petty bickering. The phony meltdown rants meant to gin up ratings and audience and sharepoints and advertising.

We journey together, we survive together. Or we do not survive at all.

Rest in peace, Chance Phelps. Your work is done. Ours has just begun.
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

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