It’s not often that I associate art with television these days. Leave it to public broadcasting to buck that trend.
Tonight I happened across PBS’s America at a Crossroads a series dealing with our current state of affairs in the post 9/11 world. This particular episode focused on the writings of Americans who’ve served in Iraq. The most moving piece (in my mind, they were all gut wrenching) was authored by an officer escorting the body of a fallen marine back to his hometown in Wyoming. (The full text is here)
All along the route (to the cemetery), people had lined the street and were waving small American flags. The flags that were otherwise posted were all at half-staff. For the last quarter mile up the hill, local boy scouts, spaced about twenty feet apart, all in uniform, held large flags. At the foot of the hill, I could look up and back and see how enormous the procession was. I wondered how many people would be at this funeral if it were in, say, Detroit or Los Angeles—probably not as many as were here in little Dubois, Wyoming…
Now, as I watched them carry him the final fifteen yards, I was choking up. I felt that, as long as he was still moving, he was somehow still alive. Then they positioned him over his grave. He had stopped moving.
Now, he was home to stay and I suddenly felt at once sad, relieved, and useless. It had been my honor to take Chance Phelps to his final post. Now he is on the high ground overlooking his town.
There’s many things that you could amend here. Tack on a piece of spin, political hyperbole. As they say, the silence is deafening.