Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan

The movie Saving Private Ryan is a realistic look at a horrific time in the history of our world. Not for the squeamish or faint of heart, the first half hour of the film depicts the D-Day Invasion of Normandy from the perspective of the troops invading the beaches. Hailed for its realism, this film earned Steven Spielberg his second Best Director Oscar in 1998 and has been recognized as one of the best films of all time.

The link that I am sharing with you does not have any violence or bad language, but allow me to set the scene for you. It has been a very tense time for this unit. They have been tasked with setting off on their own to track down a young soldier who is being sent home since all of his brothers have been killed in the fighting. As they struggle with this assignment, completing their duty, they cross many trying times and literal battles. We pick up the moment following another near disastrous fight and the men are tired, stressed, and at odds with one another. Some are ready to walk away from their task. Others are determined to make them stay the course.

At this moment their commanding officer, played by the ever constant Tom Hanks, defuses the tension by sharing what his job was back in the real world. You see, the men of his unit have debated and placed bets as they tried to uncover the truth of this part of their leader’s identity. He chooses to unveil it here:

These men have followed him through difficult circumstances and trust their captain. They could not be more surprised to find out the truth. His honesty and vulnerability serve to bring his men closer together. “Every man I kill, the farther away from home I feel.” He is in the war for a reason, but he struggles to maintain his identity in the midst of the most horrific of circumstances.

Obviously we cannot, nor would we want, to replicate the horrors faced by so many during the crisis of a world war. It is impossible to imagine how we would respond. However, we have young people among us who are being raised in traumatic situations that are also unfathomable to many of us. For these children, their entire existence is within the boundaries of their personal ‘war.’ What a challenge they have in finding their identity and managing who they are in the midst of traumatic circumstances. These children need champions and a community of people to help speak the truth into them daily lest they fall into the despair and war within themselves. For many, this is a daily battle to claim their identity.

We have so many who have fought and died for our country to protect us and grant us the freedoms we often take for granted. In no way am I attempting to minimize their sacrifice here. On the contrary, when I contemplate what so many have given up to provide the comforts we enjoy, it puts into perspective the comparatively small annoyances that we make into huge issues on a daily basis. When I can think beyond myself and recognize the truth of the daily struggles maintained by others, it allows me to be more compassionate, understanding, and perhaps able to come alongside someone who is struggling.

The Trauma Sensitive Schools training from this summer brings a whole new level of understanding to serious and real issues faced by our students. Let’s be willing to invest in the people who surround us every day.