Once upon a time, not many generations ago, we were a nation at war, and focused our total energies on winning that war. Even Hollywood contributed, providing not only crews who filmed the progress of American armies, but also producers and directors who made movies in support of the war effort.
Major George Stevens headed up the Special Coverage Motion Picture Unit that covered combat from Normandy into Germany using color film that his son later turned into the documentary George Stevens: From D—Day To The Rhine.
Major Frank Capra produced a 7—film series titled Why We Fight for the War Department.
From 1942 to 1945, Hollywood made films such as Wake Island, Gung Ho, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, The Fighting Lady: USS Yorktown, and the classic Story of GI Joe, based on the writings of Ernie Pyle.
Today, we are once again a nation engaged in a global conflict. But while a majority of Americans actively or tacitly support the war on terrorism, Hollywood is AWOL. Not only AWOL, but in strenuous opposition to the national security policies and the defense actions of this country, and to its core values. Indicative of their opposition, they offer Americans a hate—filled litany of lies and scurrilous propaganda called Fahrenheit 9/11.
So as we near the third anniversary of the mass murder attack upon our homeland and subsequent response —— which eliminated many terrorists and liberated millions of Muslims from unspeakable cruelty and death —— Americans might be wondering "where is our movie?"
Where is the movie that depicts:
* Missions surrounding the heroic death of Navy SEAL Neil C. Roberts in the Shah—I—Kot mountains of Afghanistan. The insertion chopper he was in was hit, spilling hydraulic fluid. He slipped on it and out of the chopper, but managed to find cover in enemy territory ten feet below. Before reinforcements arrived, Roberts held off Taliban forces single—handedly before running out of ammo.
* Special Operations Forces missions in Afghanistan, including the now—famous bearded commandos on horseback calling in air strikes and working with Afghan fighters, plus the Silver Star action of Master Sgt. Anthony S. Pryor, who personally killed five al Qaeda. The last one was eliminated in hand—hand combat with Pryor using his one uninjured arm.
* The 3rd Infantry Division's unstoppable drive on Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom, which was led by two armor task forces One of them, TF 3/69th Armor, was commanded by cigar—chomping, Pattonesque Lt. Col. Ernest "Rock" Marcone. Those soldiers embodied perseverance, professionalism, camaraderie, heroism and self—sacrifice.
* Operations by the 4th Infantry Division after the fall of Baghdad, specifically Lt. Col. Steve Russell's Task Force 1/22nd Infantry. Based in the Sunni triangle city of Tikrit and led by an officer steeped in history and T.E. Lawrence, TF 1/22 conducted patrols and raids, and compiled the intelligence that led to bagging Saddam during Operation Red Dawn.
Then there are several books that could be turned into movies. The March Up: Taking Baghdad With The 1st Marine Division by Ray L. Smith and Bing West, and Boots On The Ground, based on Karl Zinsmeister's embedded reporting with the 82nd Airborne Division, would fit the bill.
These are only some of the possibilities. There are three years' worth of compelling stories of real service and sacrifice by the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines out there, waiting for a dedicated scriptwriter to turn them into an equally compelling film. There must be at least one such person out there in Hollywood. Not all of its denizens are liberal, anti—war and anti—American. The movie will be honest, tough, gritty and realistic. It might even be unabashedly patriotic.
And it will be a box office success.
Well, we're waiting.
John B. Dwyer is an author and historian in Dayton, Ohio