I tend to shy away from really gory movies and television shows. I hate seeing movies in which people are brutally shot followed by blood gushing from their wounds. I hate watching anything that shows scared and innocent people in highly dangerous situations. I hate watching television or movies that make the gory scenes filled with blood and people’s insides falling out look so real that I can hardly tell if it fake or just really good make-up. All of those things considered, that pretty much eliminates any war show or movie from my list of things to watch.
Lucky for me, with AP testing over and the end of the school year rapidly approaching, teachers are seemingly left with nothing else better to do than to show movies in class that relate to history in some way. Forget watching the mild war specials on televisions, my teachers decide to bring in the Hollywood produced war movies about Vietnam, World War I trench warfare and the Union army. But, perhaps one of the most gruesome war scenes that I’ve watched is about D-Day.
My history teachers have decided to show the movie "Saving Private Ryan” in class. And why not? It’s relevant (ish) to what we learn in class, it demonstrates historical events and it makes what we learn come alive on screen.
"Saving Private Ryan” portrays the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy, France. The scene features a solid eight minutes (maybe more) of non-stop gunshots that pierce through the bodies of soldiers both on land and in the water dying the ocean a deep red color. The sight of soldiers agonizing in pain as their insides fall out and lie beside then, calling out for their mothers and crying in fear is heart wrenching to watch.
Usually, I can get through all of the gruesome fighting, blood, gore and agony of the injured soldiers by telling myself that it’s not real, that it’s just a movie, and they’re just actors. But for war movies and "Saving Private Ryan” in particular, I can’t tell myself that because even though the movie is fake, it portrays the actual lives of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers during World War II.
I can’t help but think that these men were sons, husbands, fathers and boyfriends who all fought and gave up their lives to fight for our freedom. And every time I watch these war movies, although they bring me to tears, I can’t help but feel overly appreciative that these people dedicated their lives to fight for freedom.
That’s why we have a Memorial Day every year, the last Monday in May; to remember the lives of those who fought and lost their lives in battle. That last weekend in May is so often dedicated to barbecues, shopping and beach time to kick off the beginning of summer that we lose sight of why we have a day dedicated to remembering.
Sure, the parties and barbecues are fun but I think that we observe this holiday so we don’t simply feel sad at the thought of a gruesome war. After watching multiple movies this year (not by choice) about wars and battles and lives lost, I know I’ll be doing something different this Memorial Day and actually taking the time out of the day to remember the lives lost fighting for freedom.
Jenna Chambers is a senior at Carlmont High School. Student News appears in the weekend edition. You can email Student News at firstname.lastname@example.org.