Mezza Luna Ristorante - Dining Review
“So… How old are you now?” I asked the hubby, as we sat down to dinner.
We had just been seated at our lovely outdoor table at Mezza Luna Ristorante - for a special Saturday night - a birthday celebration - dinner out.
“29,” he says.
“No, really?” I question him.
“35,” he then says.
“No... I seriously don’t know,” I say. Now resorting to begging for his age. “I literally do not remember your age, and I only remember that I am 40 because I am, right now, at this moment, the big four o.”
“35,” he says, again. “And I’m not getting any older.” That’s it. It’s been authoritatively decided. Discussion over.
Well - I simply knew that wasn’t true. But we proceeded to dine upon some fabulous food, all the time with me not knowing the real number. The age for which we were celebrating this fine night.
Because, you see, I don’t really know if it's a “covid thing” or what, but time is just flying by.
One breath, and a day has passed.
One blink, and a whole week flutters past us.
One sip of water, and a whole month is swallowed up whole.
In fact, by the time we finish eating this very meal, we will be 65 years old.
And the pandemic itself - well that flew by too. I tend to think it’s all because I’m the busiest I’ve ever been, and not because of a global plague that seemingly altered time itself. But, who knows?
Either way, I can barely remember my own age, let alone the age and/or birthdates of anybody else I know and love, including my own husband - and maybe that is not a covid thing? I think I’m just really, really bad at ages... and birthdays... and numbers.
I guess I always have been. But the older I get, it apparently shows more now… As I sit across from the hubby, proceeding to ask my own husband for his age on his own birthday during this very special night out.
Our server comes over. We start with water for both.
Gulp, and another month disappears. Hooray!
I then ask for lemonade, and Bryan requests an old fashioned.
By the time our meal was perfectly prepared, cooked, seasoned, and served to us, we were flying well into the year 2022. But that all hasn’t happened just yet.
Eventually, we settled on 43 (???) Our take on his real age this evening. On this beautiful day in the month of May, in this grand and fabulous year of life on Earth: 2021.
“Are you sure?” I ask. Doubting even the truth, simply because I have no idea or grasp on reality any longer… Ages and time blown apart. The Earth, to me, might as well be spinning around the sun at a rate of 365 rotations an hour instead of 365 rotations a year. No concept of time any longer, not even a smidge, even left in my brain at this point in my life. And that, I finally have come to believe, has something to do with Covid.
And maybe that’s all simply because, when people are asked to stop living their lives - living - becomes increasingly more important. In my head, that is.
It’s a beautiful evening at the beach. We are seated on the outdoor patio of Mezza. Located at 110 First Street in the Beaches Town Center area of Neptune Beach, this local Floridian establishment has always seemed upscale and expensive in my mind, and seemingly a bit out of reach for an everyday occasion. But for birthdays, anything goes, right? So, while I expected quite an expensive dining experience, Mezza Luna ended up being nothing like what I thought and perceived it to be - In a good way. It wasn’t nearly as pricey as I was predicting, and it was a much more casual atmosphere as well - also, in a very good way.
With today’s hits playing loudly on the stereo speakers, intermixed with some oldies and goodies, the vibe was upbeat, happy, and not at all stuffy or too fancy. Our entire dining experience ended up being an absolutely and utterly perfect atmosphere for the type of dinner we were going for that evening.
It’s now May. So at dinnertime - the sun - it’s still out. And, gosh, it was a hot one. There were seats on the back patio - straight in the sun - and I knew we could never last out there. Not even five minutes. I would have easily melted away. I had just finished a shift working outside in the heat all day, and sitting straight in the hot sun was never, ever going to happen that night.
But the whole front end of the restaurant has another outdoor area that is completely covered in shade. It’s actually set up really, very quaint. You’re “inside” the restaurant, with the feel and coziness of being inside and away from the elements, but the front wall is open to the outdoors and fresh air. So we were technically seated outside - per my request placed on my OpenTable dining reservation app. Also, the mask mandate in the local Jacksonville area had just been recently lifted, so for those looking to enter without a mask, no mask was needed. Every single staff member of the restaurant still had masks on though.
If you don’t have OpenTable, and you enjoy dining out, I highly recommend it. The process of booking takes a mere few seconds, it’s free, and it’s easier than a phone call. Plus - all your reservations add up to monetary rewards. I’m a big fan.
Our drinks arrived, and ice cold lemonade never tasted so good. I downed my drink, and another was brought immediately over to me.
We then ordered the meatball appetizer to split, and Bryan ordered a wedge blue cheese salad as well.
The meatballs were seasoned wonderfully, with a creamy sauce of something or other underneath. I didn’t really bother to look at the menu, I really just devoured it as quickly as I did my lemonade; noting later - however, that it was served with creamy polenta, tomato, mint, and piave cheese at $11.00.
And Bryan’s iceberg salad was served with crispy shallots, bacon, sun dried tomatoes, and blue cheese dressing, at $9.00.
Our server asked if we wanted fresh bread, and of course, because we are merely human, we said - Yes.
Dinner was fabulous. And I couldn't remember the last time I had such a marvelous meal, seated that close to the ocean, and so close to home.
We both ordered steaks for the main course. I had the filet (at $35.00), my usual go to, and Bryan had the grilled flat iron steak frites (at $27.00), any steak - his guaranteed usual.
The bordelaise sauce drizzled over my filet was superb. And I immediately commented to Bryan… “How come we can’t replicate this at home?” I kept eating and I don’t remember what we decided our answer to that deep question was.
Being that it was Bryan’s birthday, dessert was a must. So, we ordered two, of course. And that way we could each try each other’s and share.
I loved the affogato. To death. I would go back to Mezza just to order it once again. At $6.00 it was worth every penny, and a cool treat on this hot night.
And, then there was the cheesecake. Oh, is there anything so good in all this miraculous world as a slice of cheesecake?
Well, maybe the next best thing is taking the leftovers home. At $8.00, and heaven on Earth, I asked for the seasonal sauce to be left off. I just wanted the slice served plain. And as we were too stuffed to eat anymore, I asked for my remaining cheesecake to be boxed up. To be feasted upon later that evening back home of course…. And therein lies the only ‘problem’ of the magnificent evening. And I dare say it was really even a problem. I actually just asked for a box…
Meaning, I would box up the cheesecake myself. But, the server wanted to bring the dish back to the kitchen and box it up. And that’s when I realized he did the same with my steak.
This was the very first time since covid began, that a server wanted to take my meal away from me, that I had already touched, and bring it back into the kitchen. That act seemed to go away, nearly one hundred percent of the time, since the beginning of the pandemic.
As soon as the plague began, everything and anything was all about contact. Touch points were focused upon. And the less touching the better. Along with cross contamination, and risk of cross contamination. So, I naturally thought it was swell when seemingly every single restaurant started bringing the box out to the table, instead of taking the touched plate back into the kitchen to box up there, thus risking more germ spread back onto everyone’s food unnecessarily.
So, I did think it very, very strange that the server wanted to take my slice of cheesecake, that I had already feasted upon, and bring it back into the kitchen to box up. I didn’t say anything, but I did ponder this, deeply.
And as I pondered, my cheesecake was making its untimely transition.
When my lovely piece of food was brought back out to me... it looked like this:
A fine meal. A lovely evening. Everything - perfection. Down to the sights and sounds.
And then - sad face. :(
Or, should I say smoosh face.
My cheesecake went through the ringer back in the kitchen. My cheesecake died a slow death. It transformed from a slice of cake... To cheese mush inside a plastic see through box. Sealed for transport into space. Or somewhere else very far away.
But who am I kidding?! I did not really care one bit. As we learned growing up, it’s not what’s on the outside that matters, it’s what’s inside that really important.
It’s not the gift that matters, it's the thought that counts.
Never judge a book by its cover.
Contents may have shifted during transport.
Wait - none of that is what I was going for here.
Anyway, I could care freaking less what my cheesecake looked like as I carried it out the door. And yes, it got eaten less than two hours later in less than two seconds flat. Presentation be forgotten that night, my dear friends. No, I did not care what it looked like on the outside. I didn’t care. It all certainly did not really matter to me.
Because, if I’m so busy loving my life, so very freaking much, to the point that I cannot remember how old I am, or how old my husband really is, because life is too much fun to stop and think about it. Then I certainly could care less about the doggie bag presentation at a fine dining establishment with today’s hits blasting on the radio overhead as we freely inhaled the salt life.
All I cared about was the birthday that was being celebrated. And the fun time we were having. And the very fresh and very salty air that we were breathing in on that beautiful patio. As we watched tourists and locals pass by on the adjacent sidewalk. And we ate our fresh bread, and slapped on way too much butter.
And scooping up whatever that creamy mush was underneath our meatball appetizer, while enjoying a steak that I could never replicate in my own kitchen. And bringing home with me a cheesy slice of heaven. It all didn’t matter what it looked like. And how it was presented to me. And as I pondered the state of my flattened and battered and weathered and worn and completely beat up cheesecake seated in front of me, sealed tightly for transport across great oceans on a big container ship for a long haul journey… I decided to ask my husband, once again.
I stared at my smooshed cake. And I pondered the physics of time and space once again. “44?” I questioned him.
Desperately aching to know and confirm his real age, yet again. And too lazy to pull out my calculator to simply subtract 2021 from his year of birth, to find the correct number in a matter of seconds.
“NO!” he desperately bellowed back at me. “I am NOT 44 today.”
So we settled, once again, on 43.
He was 43 years old. And yes, I am 40.
We had that confirmed. Leaving no room for doubt.
And so we continued our evening. And we both knew each other’s real ages. At least for that one night. Until I proceeded to forget it all once again. When the day transitioned from Saturday to Sunday and I didn’t even know what universe I was living in, once again.
So, yeah, we knew we were in our forties. We knew we loved our steak dinner. And we certainly knew covid was in the rear view mirror. And life kept moving on. But, the funny thing is, life never really stopped. That’s the amazing thing. Covid never stopped our lives. As we celebrated the transition from 42 to 43… life was still happening. And life would continue to go on. Whether we knew our ages at the time or not. Under a mezza luna moon… life was continuing to happen all around us.~
~ Celebrating Four Whopping Years Out Of Rehab ~
Today I’m celebrating four years of life.
I may be 40 years old, but these last four years are what today is all about.
May 11th is the anniversary of my discharge from Mayo Clinic’s Pain Rehabilitation Center - located in Jacksonville, Florida. Today... marking four years out. Four times three hundred and sixty five whopping days. Each and every single day being counted and tallied. All adding up to - four years strong - and four years of absolutely killing it at life.
You don’t get to that numerical tally by simply blinking and repeating. Or taking a breath in, and a breath out, over and over again. But then again… you actually, and really, do.
I would not be the happy, content, at-peace-with-the-world, and God loving person that I am right now and today, if it wasn’t for Mayo, and my time spent there. Because while God saved my life, Mayo Clinic helped give me the momentum to keep going after that.
And I’ve rambled on about Mayo in the past quite a few times, so you can go ahead and check all of that out below, if you’re interested in learning more about my experiences at the Clinic:
Christine’s Floridian Dreams: ABOUT
#34) Merry Christmas ~ And How To Buy For That Person On Your List Who Saved Your Life ~
#65) The Sea Life ~ Happy Easter
The above articles delve a little bit deeper on how I came to be a patient at Mayo Clinic, my experiences traveling from Chicago, Illinois up to Rochester, Minnesota for treatment, and all the way to my new and fabulous life in Jacksonville, Florida. Plus, why my long and challenging month at Pain Rehab changed my life, and continues to change me - to this day.
So today, I wanted to pull your attention to what I view and believe, very strongly, are the tools and virtues necessary for living a fruitful and rewarding life with chronic pain. Because, four years later, it’s not just a snap of the fingers and life is amazing - it requires work - constant work - every single day. And one needs tools in order to do this work. So - here are the most vital tools I deem imperative toward continued success and maintenance after leaving rehab:
[ Plan ]
I plan. And I plan for everything. I plan my day. I plan my week. I plan my next two weeks out, and I strategically and creatively title that plan - “My Two Week Plan.” I plan the month. I plan the year. And, most importantly, I also plan for all these things to NOT go according to this plan.
But, at the same time I do all of this plotting and planning and scheming and theorizing... I simply live for today. (And, if that sentence makes any sense to you, please let me know.)
[ Purpose ]
I live. And I live now. I don’t wait to live. And I don’t count on tomorrow (even though I plan for it).
I wear my favorite clothes today (and I don’t save them for a better outing). I burn my favorite candles (and I don’t save them for only when guests come over). I sign up for the class I’ve been aching to take. I paint on all my canvases. I purchase tickets to my favorite play. I buy my coffee on the outside (as Jerry Seinfeld once said). I go to museums. I try all the newest restaurants. I create every single day - and not merely when I have time. I read all the books - of all kinds. I travel. I explore. I look up at the sky - and not down at my phone. I drive with the windows down. And I say hello to strangers, all the time. I know exactly why I am here and exactly what I am supposed to do. And I do it. Now. And I don’t save any of it for the unknown future.
Ahhhh, the unknown future. The future on a distant horizon we cannot possibly yet imagine. That brings me straight on up to my next tool.
[ Perseverance ]
There’s a reason the Mars Rover of 2020 was named Perseverance. My goodness! Can you even imagine the amazing journey that darn little robotic thing went on to get where it is right now?
Mars!... Freaking Mars! Do you really even realize how far away Mars really is from us here on Earth? Enough ‘really’s’ already. Without perseverance, there would literally, and really, be zero evidence of humanity on Mars. Or should I say - evidence of Earthlings on Mars. And that’s because the road to Mars is not paved and narrow. There is no defined route to arriving on the Red Planet. We’re making this all up as we go. It’s all foreign territory. And it’s scary. But thrilling. This - this feat - never accomplished before - landing humans on Mars. Who on God's green Earth knows when this will happen? It could take a number of years - a tally of days - a number and amount of time beyond our comprehension right now. And - It will take determination. It will take struggle, and challenges we possibly cannot yet even imagine.. It will take sacrifice. It will take discipline. And it most certainly will take - perseverance.
To persevere, means to struggle. To persevere, means to keep going. To persevere, means to face adversity, challenge, pain, hardship, and loss... and to keep going away. To persevere means you know how far away the future is, and to continue onward anway. To persevere, means it’s ok to fail. To persevere, simply means to get back up and try again.
So, while I plan for the future... And I live life for today… And if at first I don’t succeed, I try, try, again. This fact brings me to my final bullet point of today’s discussion - Patience.
Yes, I live in the moment, while at the same time... I have to have the patience of a freaking saint.
[ Patience ]
The single most important factor to making it through one thousand four hundred and sixty days of life outside of rehab. Without patience, I wouldn’t be writing this today. Without patience, I would not be celebrating four years strong. Without patience, I would have zero creativity. Without patience, I would be suffering. I’d be pacing, and agonizing, and wondering when in the freaking heck is all of this pain ever really going to go away?... Really.
Without patience, I would not be alive.
There’s a real and solid reason why there is a saying on this Earth that goes a little something like this:
Patience Is A Virtue.
That’s because it really and truly is.
Patience is NOT the most popular kid in school. People tend to not like Patience. And actually, people tend to despise Patience. Patience is continuously, and unrelentlessly, teased and taunted and bullied. And sadly, Patience gets tortured every single gosh darn day, somewhere on this planet.
Yes, Patience is really hard to live with.
But Patience is Required for Success.
So if you really want to succeed at whatever your goal is, I’d say to simply suck it up, buttercup... And to welcome some good, old-fashioned Patience into your new and modern life. Become friends with Patience. Actually, I'd even go so far as to say to make Patience your very best friend in life... Yeah, Patience is really that important.
So while everyone else is beating up Patience in the back alley around the corner from the school yard… YOU - you there, you go ahead and save Patience from that beating. Drag Patience out of the alleyway. And usher Patience straight on into the nurse's office for a solid checkup and mending and a bag of ice to go home with.
Then, take Patience home with you. Serve Patience a plate of cookies and milk - almond milk - not cows milk. And ask your mother if Patience can sleep over. Watch your favorite movie with Patience. And then, go ahead and watch a film that Patience likes, that you happen to utterly and totally despise. But suck it up and have some darn patience already. Humor Patience, and watch the movie anyway. You’ll be best friends in no time. Gosh, and at that exact point - Patience will really and truly love you back, too.
If you can learn the value of patience, you can learn the secret to life. If you can learn the virtue of patience, you will be exactly where you are meant to be. If you can simply have patience, there is nothing that you cannot do in this world.
But gosh, golly, oh jeaz - there is most definitely a secret to being patient - and that is this. if you can accept patience, you can accept your pain. Your struggles, your misfortunes. Your annoyances. Your anger, temper, and all your irritations. Your mind - arguing with itself. Your heading - spinning. Your every breath you take. You can then handle the deck of cards you’ve been dealt. You will learn from this adversity. And that experience will build momentum, and carry you forward, through time. Yes, if you can accept and welcome patience into your life, you’ll be killing it at life too. Because, without patience, you’ll really never know or even possibly imagine where you will be... four years from now.~
*Editorial Note & Disclaimer:
All views, opinions, and statements herein are my own. I am not a doctor. I am not trying to save you, and I cannot make your pain go away. I am merely detailing to you my own personal opinions and experiences with the Mayo Clinic as a patient. Each person is unique, and what works for one, will not work for all. I share my story in hopes it will reach someone who may need to hear or see just these exact words at this exact time to push them to get the help they need… right freaking now. Because - sometimes saving yourself, is allowing others to help you save you. If you are in chronic pain, struggling, or severely depressed, I would highly recommend calling the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida to explore treatment options. Their phone number is 904.953.2000.
~Women In World War II - Film Review~
I had no idea what to expect when I popped this DVD into my little, black, spinning machine. But, I was delightfully surprised by what I had discovered within.
I’m a huge fan of old, classic films - especially from the 1940’s and into the 1950’s. Those years are, without a doubt, my favorite era of filmography. And having knowledge of, and already having viewed, countless movies from that time period, I was shocked that I had never run across this one.
I believe this film was recommended to me by Big Tech. You know - the guys who know more about you than you do about yourself.
One of the big sites told me I should check this out. And, either they really do know me better than I do, or a little birdie told them how completely and utterly patriotic I really am. A quick glimpse of the movie poster, imagery, and really, the title alone, and I immediately clicked. A simple skim of the plot, and I went straight over to the Jacksonville Public Library mobile app and requested to rent.
What a joy!
And what sorrow…
For anyone who is even a remote fan of World War II films, this one is a must-see. The title says it all, and the title does do it justice.
Based upon a true story, So Proudly We Hail tackles a plot involving a ‘small’ and somewhat forgotten and overlooked bullet point of WWII subject matter - WOMEN.
The Women of War… The Women of World Wars... The Women who also risked it all - for freedom.
While, of course, men did most of the fighting, and dying in WWII, women were also heavily involved, at home, and abroad. And contrary to popular belief, women were allowed on the front lines. It just wasn’t discussed, acknowledged, and brought to our attention as it should have been.
Yes - It should have been - so that we could honor the might and bravery and history of American women - in the world's biggest and mightiest war.
No - it wasn’t just Rosie the Riveter back on the homefront, representing the women of American wartime, in bomber plants and machine shops across the U.S. for the Defense industry.
While we remember and know Rosie pretty well - we cannot overlook Nancy the Nurse.
She was nursing on the warfront, and she tackled the death and destruction straight in evil’s path.
So, while Rosie riveted away on airplanes and war ships and other munitions, Nancy was also seaming and mending pieces together, with stitches and staples of a different sort, and working on a different sort of product.
Rosie handled the steel - and Nancy handled the blood and guts.
But they all gave it their all... and that’s all that really mattered at the time.
Starring Claudette Colbert and Paulette Goddard, two of the silver screen’s most extraordinary stars at the time, So Proudly We Hail, accurately, and with great detail, captures the role females in the Army had during some of the war's most challenging times.
And before going any further with this review, I want to highlight an aspect of the film which I deem one of the most important - its context - Time.
So Proudly We Hail was released in 1943 - during the height and depth of WWII. The context is imperative. This film was produced during the war - and not AFTER the war.
This context is of extreme importance, and is what makes this film quite different from WWII films released AFTER WWII was complete. When the war was literally over, extinguished, not of this Earth any longer.
Context is something that - we - society today - have all but forgotten. And context is essential to our understanding of the time period.
And why context is so crucial should be so very obvious, but increasingly isn’t. The war was RAGING while this film was viewed in theaters all over the United States. The war was being fought, the people were sacrificing, people were dying, and the people were afraid of their unknown futures.
American’s had no idea who was going to win the war while watching this film upon its release. Yet, American’s still sacrificed, and they still gave up so very much. All for a belief... a simple, true and noble belief - in hope.
For a better future.
For a free world.
For an end to slavery and tyranny, concentration camps, hate, imperialism - and against the destruction of faith - and for value of personal freedom.
So, while I do love watching these old classic films in the context of the world of today - seemingly and literally a million miles away from the values and context of a world that was alive less than a hundred years ago. I also equally enjoyed viewing So Proudly We Hail with the remembrance of the fact that all of this was made and written and said and sweated over while we were still fighting against the Third Reich and the Imperial Japanese.
No one at the time knew how this horrific world war would end, especially in 1942 and 1943. Only really in 1944 could some see a light at the end of the tunnel. Again, calling all of context into play here.
It all could have gone either way at that point in 1943. The world could have gone the way of the thousand year reign of a fascist dictator, or it could, and did, go in the direction of freedom. And that fact of their lack of knowledge of the future is what I enjoy the very most when I view these films of that time period.
Additionally, and of quite importance regarding the axis power of Japan during the time, no one knew we would someday become allies, and what I have always viewed as a special kinship and friendship between the United States and Japan - after the war.
I believe with all my heart that our relationship with Japan is of solid hope for the world to see - that enemies can become friends. That horrific atrocities on both sides can truly be forgiven. And pave the way toward a better future - for both nations, and others. And this is worth noting due to the scenes in the film where hatred toward the Japanese is discussed from the American point of view at the time.
A time - after - Pearl Harbor had been bombed.
A time - before - Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been bombed.
Of particular note is a scene where Veronica Lake’s character says she is going to ‘kill some Japs.’ She then has a realization - what good would that do? That is not her role. She is sent to the front lines as a nurse - to heal any and all - at a hospital, in the jungle. She does fulfill her role and duty, and does not kill her enemy instead at the time.
Ultimately, however, it is her character that ends up ironically sacrificing herself to save her fellow female soldiers from their enemy at the time - the Japanese. And in her final act, she ends up killing herself - to kill the enemy - to save her American comrades. This scene, showing that no matter how her personal beliefs evolved over the course of their wartime struggles, people still made the ultimate sacrifice. And some still were forced to kill, even if they truly did not want to, in the course of war and evil.
Throughout the entirety of this wonderful piece of film, we are treated to the display of American Army Nurses on patrol, on shift, and their struggles off shift as well. Love, duty, honor, and sacrifice abound the entire film. This movie sheds light on the role of nurses in war, and what tools they had - or did not have - to work with while caring for their patients.
Seemingly forgotten in the jungles, these brave nurses triaged patients under a canopy of palm trees. Their operating rooms were made of tin roofs and cloth sheets for walls. They ran out of what we call today - PPE - personal protective equipment. And they performed surgery without masks. Simply because they just didn’t have any around to use.
Gloves were in extremely short supply. And where today’s hospitals have entire sterile processing programs for surgical instruments, this film portrays how nurses had to wash and sanitize tools in basic garbage bins and barrels - in a futile struggle to remain germ-free for each and every, and endless, patient.
Medicine running out, and at times completely out of supply, patients had to be treated without pain killers, and no anesthesia. A basic - grit your teeth and bear it - sort of agony, for stitching and mending.
And post op - forget any special flower bouquets and treats and books and magazines to keep occupied. Patients by the hundreds and thousands, lay on makeshift stretchers, to suffer through their terrible recoveries in the hot, humid, and wet open air weather of the so-called hospital. All these patients - laying in that shared, open air, watching as our heroic nurses continued treatment on countless other patients seemingly all around them.
And in case one was starting to forget - the film does a solid job of not ever letting us forget that all their hospital work was under constant threat of destruction and actually bombing. Army staff and patients were constantly fleeing enemy soldiers, snipers, airplane attacks from the sky above, and there were constant forced evacuations onto safer land - that was, conspicuously, never found.
As the situation seemed to get worse, for allies in the vicinity, sadly, the war did eventually take a very bad turn for the allies. Bataan, and the Battle of the Philippines, being what many consider one of the American militaries worst failures in our history. In that, the United States, amidst the U.S. and Filipono forces’ inability to hold the line, they ultimately fell - to the Japanese. As the overwhelming and brutal forces of their imperial enemy in this area were too much for both nations to endure. And sadly, after the fall, there was further atrocity - when the Bataan Death March was played out on enemy territory.
Roughly 80,000 American and Filipino troops were contained as prisoners of war, and horrific treatment of these prisoners led to countless further wartime deaths. Post War, Japanese commanders were tried and convicted of war crimes for their knowledge and failure of oversight of subordinates and for allowing these war crimes to take place on their watch.
So, knowing all this, many tears were shed while watching this film. As pain, and suffering, and sacrifice, and hate, and love, were all on full display.
And yes, there was Love.
There was Love - that surrounded the entire film. Love, that gave many hope, I might think, at the time. Love was still happening. Love of all kinds. And this film - in the greatest of great horrors of war time - showed that people were not afraid to actually live while they were alive. Something - as I have said many times - many today have now conclusively forgotten.
We are an afraid people right now. And we are scared to live while we are alive. These people were not. And I am not afraid to live either. The love and life portrayed in this film is indeed something we all can take lessons from today.
During struggle and and sacrifice and the horrors of war, one still must live.
After all, when else is there to live, than when you are alive?
Amidst bombs exploding, one must still live as they watch the bombs fall. In the middle of a raging fire, one must search for water and various types of flame retardants. Surrounded by hate, one must spread good will. And with smoke attempting suffocation, one must still breathe. Life.
If we are not living - we are dying.
If we are not moving - we are receding.
If we are not learning - we are submitting.
If we are not struggling - we are not human.
If we are not risking it all - we are doomed to never know what could truly become.
If we do not know sacrifice - we do not know God’s ultimate glory for us.
If we are not loving - we are doubting God’s creation.
If we do not have Faith - what is our future?
Faith - this brings me to my favorite scene of the entire film.
Walter Abel, playing the role of Army Chaplain, gives a superb performance, and is my favorite actor in the film. He remains, to this day, one of my favorite character actors of the time. His on-screen presence is a joy to me, and a light to my heart. If I had been alive during his lifetime, I would have strived to have met him in real life. And I know I would have written letters to him, thanking him for the joy his characters brought to my heart.
The scene - was of course - Christmas. My favorite holiday. My favorite time of year. Our beloved characters were all onboard ship, and the Chaplain said a prayer. The script is poetic. And many ears today could benefit from hearing his special words. It’s as if God spoke onboard the mighty vessel. And God was there - glowing amidst the light of their special little makeshift Christmas tree.
And this remains my favorite scene - because…
What is war - without Christmas?
“You must forgive me for being sentimental...” Abel states, as personnel gathered around the silly, impromptu Christmas tree.
And he continues: “We’re a sentimental people…”
“Our enemies deride us for it…”
But - “It’s what makes us stronger.”
He asks the people standing around him to have Faith. To continue forward. Even as that very night the ship steered straight into the hellfire of the coming battle. And even as he knows - and they know - what is waiting for them when they reach shore.
But still - they prayed.
And they still - had Faith.~
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