~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.~
So I went to Publix the other day. And just like any other day… I parked my car in the parking lot, and went inside. And just like any other day, I grabbed a cart. But not just like any other day, there were things I could not buy.
And when my eyes first met up with the bread aisle, I was extremely grateful that I had the foresight to freeze my previously purchased and older loaf. Living through hurricanes taught me as much.
So, I could not buy the bread that I wanted.
I kept shopping.
I could not buy toilet paper.
And, living through hurricanes - did not teach me or forewarn me on that one.
Nope - no one really saw the toilet paper challenge coming our way. Not even those already prepared for days without power and those who’ve lived through many hurricanes.
In fact, there were a lot of things I could not buy. I won’t name them all here, as that is not my point.
My initial point is this - I made do. I adapted. I pushed on. I stayed positive. I shared my ideas with others on how I am coping. I still joked about it all. I remained silly and sarcastic. And I kept talking - despite how differently we all might perceive our new reality.
Because at the same time, there were many items I could buy… many items in my shopping cart. Many items the cashier scanned through their purchasing system. Many items now settled nicely inside my very cold refrigerator and freezer and pantry and medicine cabinet.
You see, how we react to what is placed in front of our eyes, is sometimes more important than what is actually placed before our very eyes.
I did not cry these past weeks. Although I wanted to. I did not give up. Although the thought did cross my mind. I did not fight over perceived differences. I only joked about it all. With sarcasm and humor yes, but truly just joking around. And many others are now doing the same.
I have been in contact with countless individuals each and every day these last weeks. And what I witnessed - has been the absolute best of humanity.
Each person who I speak and interact with is nice. Kind. Optimistic. And yes, scared.
But all of them keep their composure in public. All of them do not want to spread further fear. And panic.
There was another common theme to every person I recently met. They said that people are talking to each other once again. People are civil. People are reaching out to those they have not spoken to in years. And then, other people are responding in kind.
Specifically, people are putting their differences aside. And communicating like human beings again.
At the end of one conversation, one man thanked me for speaking with him.
We took time to pause for a few minutes. We took the time to genuinely inquire about each other’s well being. Any politics and beliefs and religions and all other differences aside. We are speaking to one another. But most importantly we are caring for one another.
And as the conversation with that one gentleman came to an end, he said that this was the best conversation he had in a long time. I said I completely agreed. He went on his way. I don’t know his name. I probably will never see him again. But each person an individual meets and interacts with has the crucial ability to set our future toward a different path. A more optimistic path. If merely, we react to others in a better way.
When I exited Publix, the very first thing that caught my attention while walking to my car was a beautiful dog. One of God’s special creatures. A creature who bestows special gifts onto the living world.
This precious doggy was sitting at attention. He was watching the exit. Waiting for his owner to leave the store. This angelic pup could not be swayed. This canine could not be distracted. He or she only had eyes for his partner in life. He could not be disturbed in any way.
And yes, I did try.
How could I resist? The little cutie pie! I said, “Oh hello!” And then told him how cute he was. I said, your owner will be out shortly.
But, you know what? His gaze never waivered. His look was of determination. His spirit and love - fully alive in his soul. Waiting. Being diligent. And forever faithful.
I said a few more nice things to this adorable little creature and then went on my way. His gaze never once removed. His eyes locked on the front doors of Publix.
As we were loading up the trunk, I noticed the next people coming out of the store. Individuals, couples, families.
Each of them stopped to talk to the adorable doggy.
Each of them wanted a response from the dog - just like I did.
I watched the humans. And I watched the dog...
Each of them saw pure love in a golden hew.
But that dog’s gaze never strayed.
I will not forget that dog. He made such an impression on me. Enough of an impression, obviously, that I felt compelled to take a photo. To capture the spirit in his eyes. To soak in his determination and faith and unwavering love for another human.
These weeks have been a challenge. Not just for me. Not just for those I have talked with. But for everyone.
Every single living human being on this planet is now touched in some way. Touched by a faceless evil.
An evil we are now at war with.
Yes, we are at war - with a virus.
An evil that knows no discrimination. An evil that has destruction in its wake and in its path. An evil that knows no age, no race, no creed, no ethnicity, no sex, no gender, no hair color, no appearance, and certainly doesn’t care whether we look like a million damn dollars, or if we - uh hmmm - could really use a manicure or a hair cut.
No - CoVid 19 does not care. It only cares about eating us alive. It only cares about its own survival. And growth. And spread. And mutation. And adaptation. And to gain even further power over us. To swallow us whole. To suffocate us.
And in order for us to survive against this evil we will have to suffer. And in order for it to be destroyed - we also have to suffer.
You see - we - every single human being - has now been called to action.
We not only have to act. But we have to REACT.
We have been summoned. We have been tasked. We have been deployed.
In order for our evil to be destroyed - it will require the will and determination and action and reactions of every single human on this planet. Not just a single city. Not just a state. And not just a single nation.
This evil requires countries. Nation states. Global powers. The entire world.
We are all called to battle.
Yes, everybody has to sacrifice.
I tend to talk a lot about the following key words:
And, in the end - It’s always our reactions that win the day.
Or worse off - it’s our reactions that lose the day too.
And thus - the war.
We’ve REACTED to evil many times in the past.
On one very special Christmas during World War I, troops on both sides of the trenches put aside their different causes for a single night. Far in the distance, the songs of Christmas could be heard. Song. And then, once heard, many reacted to the sound of song, and joined in themselves. Soon, trenches were abandoned, and humanity came together. The two sides were no longer at war with one another. They stood in no-man’s land, as equals, and as humans. Sharing their different worlds they lived in. Even speaking one another’s language with each other. Think about that. Their extremely passionate differences put aside, all to make it through a somber time, together.
We reacted to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. And it was a REACTION felt round the world.
And after that bombing, we were told that the only thing we have to fear - is fear itself.
We reacted to North Korean aggression - as they crossed the 38th Parallel, and attacked South Korean sovereignty.
We REACTED once again, to September 11th, 2001. America - invaded - by a foreign enemy. We did not initiate. We did not ask for war. We did not want violence and evil and death and destruction and very horrific terrors. But all those evils came our way anyway - and, thus, we reacted. With the full military and civilian might built and instilled and festering inside our souls.
By coming together.
Yes - We’ve reacted many a time throughout human history.
And we must now react, once again.
American’s must come together.
In fact, the entire world must come together on this one, folks.
Yes, our evil is a virus. Yes, our evil has no face. There are no planes crossing the Pacific in secret, set out for destruction from the sky above. We are not focused on the 38th Parallel dividing line on a map. I am not talking about an enemy so determined to fly a plane - but not at all determined to land it.
Yes, our evil is completely and utterly invisible.
And sometimes, and making this all the more scarier, is the need for awareness in the fact that it’s those invisible evils which are the strongest ones to battle against. They require all our will and force. All of us to be very brave. All of us to sacrifice in some way. And all of our humility.
All of humanity.
It’s sorta like when you’re playing a video game. And then in the final battle scene of each land within the game, you face the evil villain.
Ahhh, that climactic battle scene. With scary music, and scenery, and sounds in the background. All leading you to the horrific villain.
That villain is ruthless. That villain has eyes as red as the devil himself. Sometimes that villain breathes fire.
And burns his opponent.
One life down.
One less life left in the game.
And sometimes, that evil villain inside the final battle scene… literally POPS out of nowhere. Hidden behind a corner.
As you are running up, up, up, sword in hand, to save the Princess in the Castle. You round that final corner, on your way to certain victory, when you are shocked to near death and awe. That evil, red-eyed, fire breathing dragon was invisible. Waiting in hiding. And absolutely and utterly camouflaged into the dark and desolate and dirty brick and mortar of the castle walls. Hiding there. Biding his time. Just waiting for you to come at him. And then… Attack.
You are shocked.
You are down on the ground.
You fall deep into a hole.
Or down a green pipe.
You have to struggle out.
Fighting for air.
HE - EVIL - has the advantage.
EVIL - has the upper hand.
EVIL - is one up on you.
EVIL - caught you off guard.
EVIL - watches you in shock.
And EVIL… waits for your reaction.
Yes, your REACTION.
When you get knocked down, the always and forever question is - will you get up again?
Will you - live to die another day?
Will you - put up the fight of your life?
Will you - hit back?
And ultimately - will you - do all this, while keeping your humanity?
While keeping civility? While following guidelines? While educating yourself about that fire-breathing dragon? How does he live? How does he survive? And thrive? And what is his weakness? What scares him back into the brick and mortar? What burns him to death? What is required for the destruction of his evilness? Because you can’t fight fire with fire, right?
One fire pitted against another in the same small room only makes that fire more powerful and more quickly devouring the entire area. And then - it spreads. Gaining power. Beyond one room. More powerful, more heat, more burn, until it burns the whole house down. Left unchecked with nothing standing, nothing left alive in its path. Eventually swallowing the house itself.
Or - it can be snuffed out. Somehow...
No - you can’t fight fire with fire…
You fight it with water.
You fight evil with life itself.
Our federal government has called us to action.
All of us - living and breathing humans.
The challenge and ask is for fifteen days.
15 days to help change the world.
15 days to react to the summons.
15 days to follow repeated guidelines.
Every one of us is mentioned in this summons.
Every one of us plays a part.
If even one single person did not partake in The Christmas Truce of 1914, the entire spur-of-the-moment event would have ended in carnage and bloodshed and death all around. As soldiers sang Christmas Carols and played cards and swapped cigarettes and talked with one another as fellow human beings, if merely one single person on either side brought out their weapon of war and started shooting - there would be a completely different outcome to that all-important day in The Great War.
And today, we all must play our part too. No one is sitting on the sidelines on this one. No one gets a free pass. No one is going to the penalty box. We are all in play. Whether we want to play or not.
And some roles are quite different from one another. In fact, some roles could not be more different from one another than if we were all sitting in opposing trenches on a muddy and frigidly cold battlefield on Christmas of 1914.
We may feel like we are fighting different battles. But we are all on the same team.
Yes - In order to win - we must come together. We must play our roles on that same team. We MUST wear the same uniform.
All while, I’d say, for most all of us, this has been one of the most challenging times of our lives.
These days bring much uncertainty.
These days bring destruction and loss.
These days bring the feeling of defeat.
And today may feel very hopeless indeed.
But if we all do our part. The hopelessness doesn’t have to win the day.
And our roles vary greatly:
Some of us should stay home.
All of us should social-distance from one another.
Some of us should shelter in place.
Some of us should be completely and utterly and formally quarantined.
And then, on the complete opposite spectrum - Some of us should report to work as usual.
And absolutely none of us should be having the party of our lives right now.
Yes, put the kegs away my friends.
Spring Break will always be there after we weather the storm.
We have been asked to sacrifice.
We have been asked to give - of ourselves - for the sake of humanity.
This is not the time for selfishness in any way.
This is not the time for bickering. This is not the time for politics. This is not the time to give here, but take there.
This is simply a time for sacrifice. Sacrifice of all kinds.
Some of our sacrifice will be financial.
Whether it’s a loss of money, investments, various business opportunities.
Some of us will lose the very job we love. The job we need. The job we rely upon. And then, knowing what’s reasonably coming ahead of us, this loss will happen to many more people than most alive today can possibly comprehend at the current moment. Our society forever changed by this war.
Some of our loss will be social.
And some of our loss will be our education.
Some will lose out on a magical life experience that can never be fully replicated or replaced in any way ever again.
Some of it will be medical.
Some will postpone elective surgery.
Some very needed and quite necessary surgeries will be gone without.
Patients in urgent need will be triaged.
A disrupted supply chain leading to lack of medicine and a PPE shortage.
Ventilators used at maximum capacity.
Pharmaceuticals on demand.
And some people, sadly, will lose their very lives.
Because there is no war, without loss of life itself.
And there always is a but. And it’s a big BUT.
But If - we do our part. If we play our roles. If we answer our summons, and sign on for duty with all our hearts and energy and strength and determination and will. If we cross the trenches, and come together. Heed the guidelines. Follow the rules set forth by our governments and world leaders. Listen to the scientists. Support our first responders. Pray for our military. Help those who are on the front lines of this battle, all those still needing to be in contact in some way with people who could be infected. Support them, by doing your own part. Fight our own battle and play our own role in this war. And then, after all that, to continue to have faith in humanity.
We then have 15 days…
15 days to help change the world.
Yes, 15 days to bend the curve.
15 days on a path toward destruction of evil.
Who knows where we will be at the end of 15 days? It may be but a single, small step in a larger and grander plan. In a long and drawn-out road map. We may be asked something else of us at the end of 15 days.
I have no idea. And neither do you.
But it is a start.
And I do know one thing.
Our start - our reaction - is imperative to our success.
The bipartisanship I have seen this week has given me hope. And it has given countless others hope as well.
Yes, I have come in contact with many people this week who have said the same exact thing. People are really talking to one another.
The common foes are trying to come together. They are speaking. They are supporting one another. They are working together. They are even praising one another, and asking each other for help.
But better yet - each of the other is actually answering the call to help from their supposed foe.
Yes, I said that right. They are working together, my friends!
And all THAT - is true leadership. THAT - takes courage.
And I know something else.
If they do NOT work together - we will not win this war.
Let’s all put our differences aside. Again, for the sake of humanity.
Let’s all follow their lead.
Let’s all follow the guidelines.
Let’s all do our own part.
Our own part - in this - Our very own World War 19.
As the fire-breathing dragon tries to burn us down with his fire.
Let’s fight back with water.
Let’s all be human again. Let’s all be civil. Let’s all be humorous, and funny, and sarcastic, and just plain silly. Let’s sing together, and let’s laugh together too. Let’s play cards together and speak each other’s languages.
Because we can’t win the war by using fire.
We have to breathe life - into life itself.
And let’s also all be that golden doggy. The precious creature sitting in the back of a golf cart. Watching humanity walk in and out of a grocery store. And as the dog witnesses shoppers stocking up on what goods they can buy, with disappointment and sadness in what they cannot buy. Let’s all have the unwavering faith of this yellow furball.
Sheer will and absolute determination. Forever faithful and absolutely in love. Not caring what others think of his actions. Doing the right thing. Sitting on guard. Not distracted by any temptation. Hopeful and fully believing that at any moment his owner will come walking out the door. A dog - who would give his own life to protect his loved one. Knowing only love, and forgoing all fear.
Facing the world head on. Faith on his side. World War 19 literally happening all around him. Belief and love in his heart. Waiting - desperately, and passionately waiting - to react… to love, coming out the front doors of Publix. ~
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12/23/2019 0 Comments
During the opening scene of the holiday film classic, White Christmas, Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) saves Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby’s) life. It’s World War II. Bombs flying overhead. Rubble and lots of blown up, destroyed buildings half-standing all around. Davis pulls Wallace out of the path of a swaying and then falling, crumbling, and collapsing red brick building wall. He saves Wallace’s life - and injures his own arm in the process.
While in the hospital tent recovering, Wallace goes to visit Davis. To check on him. To thank him. For saving his life.
“It was a life worth saving,” Davis proudly proclaims. And simple, matter-of-fact like. He might as well of said,
“No big deal.”
“I do that sorta thing all the time!”
You see, Davis lived a happy, silly, and very innocent existence. Cheerful all the time, even on the lowest of days, he would find the bright spot, he would always be the jokester. Any scene he was in, it was a scene filled with joy and laughs.
Wallace had always been much more serious. Even in show business, the entertainment business, he was always focused on the Business side of any Show. Wallace and Davis became business partners after the War ended. Wallace - watching the finances - Davis following the dream.
Despite all cost. Money didn’t matter. He had a vision. And he was set to do it.
To convince Wallace to go along with any of his pricey and elaborate schemes, Davis simply pointed to that arm of his. A constant reminder to Wallace that he had saved Wallace’s life…
After all, it was a life worth saving.
Those constant and nagging reminders given by Davis are imperative scenes in the films plot. From that point forward of Davis saving Wallace’s life, every time Davis needed or wanted anything… anything at all, he just points to that arm of his.
So, ever and always hounded by Davis, Wallace repeatedly complied. Following Davis’s every whim, every desire, every dream. Even running to catch a train, and take a long, dreamy, and leisurely and quite lovely ride on the rails up north to Vermont. A trip he originally didn’t want to go on… and sleep in a drafty old club car - with no nice, warm bed? Wallace owed Davis. Big time.
He’d do anything to appease Davis. After all, how do you repay someone who saved your life?
It’s constant, right? For the rest of your life?
There is no amount that can suffice such a reciprocal payment for services rendered.
Wallace understood this. He knew no amount of money could repay Davis for the life he saved under the falling red brick building back during the War.
How much does it cost to save a life? How much would a person pay to be saved? How much does Wallace owe Davis for his act of selflessness and heroism? It was a near-impossible equation to solve. Unless, maybe, getting some insurance adjusters and lawyers, or mediators or other adjudicators, and judges and juries involved to finally solve the problem of Davis constantly pointing to his arm???
No, Wallace would never do that… that would cost more MONEY! Just keep on appeasing him. Just keep on humoring Davis… for the rest of his life. It was worth it. He was ALIVE after all.
In the end, they remain forever friends... And forever grateful of their drastically changed lives and all they had gone through together. War, and horror, death and destruction - to brand new post-war lives, the entertainment business, and finding the loves of their lives, together.
Their happily ever afters.
So, the question remains today in lots of people’s lives… How do you repay the person who saved you? If your life was utterly and literally saved by someone else, how can you possibly repay them? Is there is price tag on that action?
AND FURTHER - when the holidays come around each year, how do you give a gift...what do you buy… for that person on your list who saved your life?
The answer is simple.
I’ve watched White Christmas an infinite number of times. I have it memorized. I can taste the frothy and magical and very appealing drinks in the dining car scene onboard that infamous train ride up to Vermont... “Snow… Snow… Snow... Snow!” I can direct the remake if you’d like me to. I’m an expert.
But, I always used to question Bing Crosby’s character in the film. Wallace never told Davis to SHUT UP, to STOP WITH THIS LIFE SAVING BUSINESS! He never gave in or gave up on him. He never yelled - Stop pointing to your arm! Stop reminding me you saved my life! Stop bothering me!
Well, wait… maybe he did.
“Sometimes I wish the wall had fallen on me…” Wallace complains to Davis.
Awhhhh moans Davis, you don’t mean that!
Maybe Wallace did tell Davis to schedadle. Go away. But in an innocent manner. He never really meant it. That’s why they remained life-long friends. They helped each other through a dark time. That never goes away. Even as life changes in the future. He will be forever grateful that Davis saved his life.
You CANNOT put a price on a life. All life is precious. A life saved cannot be repaid. There is no amount. No check you can write. No card all-encompassing.
When stuffing the envelopes for your holiday cards and you get to the person who saved your life… do you add some extra glitter in their card? After all, they need something extra from everyone else, right?
Sure, every day, in trials and settlements, financial figures are calculated to affix and satisfy lawsuits etc. Insurance companies and attorneys calculate cost-of-life and benefits, etc. etc. etc. Money owed someone over the course of a lifetime - a calculated financial equivalent to compute what a life is worth with a dollar sign. But the money does not make a person whole. And life is not about the money. Which really explains why there is no suitable Christmas gift to give to the person who saved your life.
There is only one way to repay the person who saved you. One Christmas gift you can give them. It is by living your life. A life of gratefulness. Of service. Of thanks and gratitude. Of giving and generosity. Living the amazing and completely priceless life you were given - by that person who saved you...
By living your very best life - each and every day. Only someone who has been saved and pulled from the darkness can potentially even understand this. It just doesn’t happen all the time. That’s why there isn’t a section in the Hallmark card aisle devoted to it. We have - Merry Christmas to Mom & Dad, Happy Holiday’s To My Co-Worker, Dear Grandma, To My Dog Groomer - at Christmas… But where’s the card for - At Christmas… For Saving My LIfe??? I need that card. To give to someone I owe. But it doesn’t exist.
And that’s ok.
The person who saved you understands as much. They just want you to live your life. They don’t want a big thank you.
I know this.
I know this because my life was saved.
Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida saved my life. Both literally and figuratively... Physically and mentally. Three years ago. This will be my third Christmas since my life changed forever.
How can I possibly repay them for what they did for me?
I volunteered at the hospital for a years time. I donate. Etc. Etc. Etc. None of it adds up to how much they helped me. I could hand them the moon - because that’s what I want to do. I owe them everything. I cannot possibly repay them though.
My first holiday season post-treatment at the Clinic, I wanted to do something for them to thank them. Nothing matched my gratefulness. I wracked my brain. There was no money. There was no Hallmark card?!....
I’ve got it!
I’ll bake cookies!
Frosted Christmas Sugar Cookies - to be exact.
So during the holidays of 2017, my husband and I spent an entire weekend in the kitchen. Baking. It was wonderful. After many years of marriage, it was our first time really taking some quality time together to simply do some solid and legitimate baking. And our first real slow-down during any Christmas, ever.
And now, three years later, it is tradition. One weekend a holiday season, we stop everything. We don’t go see any Zoo Lights that weekend, we don’t go see the St. Augustine Nights of Lights that weekend, no Deck The Chairs, no Luminaria, no Christmas Pop-Up Bar, no Beaches Town Center Christmas Tree and lights, and no gingerbread house at One Ocean, we don’t shop at Rockaway Gardens or buy any Christmas greenery that weekend… we simply bake.
I light festive and dreamy scented candles. We turn on Christmas movies in the background. Our apartment becomes a pine and fir and balsam and sugar and dough scented Heaven on Earth. And we bake.
And frost… of course.
By Monday, the day of my follow-up care each December, I go off to Mayo, with a box of sugary and holiday goodness in hand. I check in to my appointment, and drop the box off at the Pain Rehab Clinic. And then go on my way, to meet with everyone else who comes to these sessions, everyone else who has had their lives changed forever by the Pain Rehabilitation Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.
We meet. We attend our sessions. We listen. We learn. We talk. We snack. We dine. We say goodbye. We go on with our lives afterward.
Another two months go by.
We all meet every other month. Coming from places near and far. Driving, flying, and yes, by train ride also. In the interim, we all keep in touch via a private Facebook Group for “Graduates” of the amazing program. We are not merely just patients who have been discharged. We are graduates of a program designed to give us life again.
And we have access to the benefits of the Rehab Clinic for the rest of our lives afterward.
After two months, we do it all again...
But it’s that December session, during the holidays, when I always bring the cookies.
By the end of all the baking and frosting during that wonderful weekend, I have a delicious box of cookies, all wrapped up and ready to go. I try to ‘up my game’ every year. Maybe better-shapes. Maybe better overall presentation. This year, we tried to master the difference between border frosting and flood frosting. I certainly did not “master” it by any means, but it was a great start, and hopefully my cookies will improve even more next year. A great article about border frosting and flood frosting can be found here - one that even a lazy baker can follow.
When I drop off my cookies, I’m proud of myself for just a small milli-second. For “stopping my life” for 48 hours. For dropping everything. To give something to someone else. Something so very simple. But something to show and express my gratefulness. Gratitude goes a very long way. But cookies go even longer.
This post is utterly and sincerely dedicated to all of the staff at the Mayo Pain Rehab Clinic. The doctors. The nurses. The occupational therapists. The physical therapists. Nutritionists. Pain Psychologists. Any and all other staff. The invisible and unnamed hard workers. The ones who stuff envelopes reminding us of our appointments. The awesome woman who always answers the phone. The people who keep all the amazing facilities clean and tidy and safe so that patients and doctors and nurses and other staff can do the life-saving work they need to do to get back out and into the world. The ones who are currently working very hard on building construction to renovate and add to the facility to make room for a whole additional team of patients, who will be able to partake in the program in the near future. Everyone. Thank you.
There are no words.
There is no amount of money.
There is no Hallmark card I can buy.
I can never repay you.
I can bring you cookies. But I can never repay you.
You saved my life.
You brought me back to life.
I know I helped just a little bit. And God did too. And I do give God all the credit here.
But right now, this one’s for you. YOU deserve A LOT of the credit.
I do the hard work it takes each and every day to continue to survive after my discharge and graduation. I know that.
But y’all work so hard too. You deserve everything. You deserve the moon.
You pulled me out from the bombs flying by overheard. You dragged me away from the heavy red brick wall collapsing on top of me. You lifted me out of the rubble and mess. You saved me from war and death and all the destruction it brings with it. All your hard work. All the efforts. Oh, the broken arms all the Phil Davis’s have endured to help save us patients. It can never be repaid. I can never thank you enough.
But you know what? I think you know that.
I think you know… that graduates living our very best lives, and doing our very best work to live a healthy, productive, generous and giving life ourselves, is our way of repaying you… each and every day. And I try to do just that.
It’s a lifetime of work.
Yes, it is for the rest of my life.
As one of the most amazing humans the world has ever known always says and reminds us... this is a lifetime commitment. There is no end date. This lifestyle is a commitment we make with ourselves until we draw our very last breath upon this Earth.
I completely understand what he means in every sense of those words.
So thank you. Thank you for those words. Thank you for your help. Thank you for saving me. But it was a life worth saving. I try my best. I thank you forever. But my life and my life’s work ahead of me is my real thank you to you. I cannot repay you with money. I cannot even explain it in these words here and now.
You know that...
So Sugar Cookies will have to do in the interim.
Thank you Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.
God Bless the Pain Rehabilitation Center and staff.
This is my Christmas gift to you.
And Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my very dear readers and subscribers. ~
This personal story is my Christmas gift to you (or someone you know) who can benefit from it in any way. If you, or someone you know, is in pain. If you are struggling. If you feel hopeless. If you are in chronic pain. If you are suffering severe depression. There is always light. There is always hope. I am not a doctor. I cannot save you. My hope with this blog is for you to use me simply as one example. To read about others, and their stories. Learn from them. Seek help. In this article is the physical facility I personally recommend. While everybody's experience will be different and unique to them, I am sharing my experience for others to benefit in any way. In my story, I am specifically referencing the Jacksonville, Florida branch of Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic has three branches - they are located in Rochester, MN, Jacksonville, FL, and Phoenix, AZ. In my own personal experience and my own personal opinion and not referring to anyone else’s, they are very different from one another. This article is referring specifically to the Jacksonville, Florida location. Their main phone number is 904.953.2000. Use my story and my example as a push to get you or that someone you know the help they need. YOU are your own best advocate. No one else will ever be able to advocate for you - better than you, yourself, and YOU. Don’t wait for someone else to come along and save you… save yourself… just maybe by letting someone else save you. But anywhere you are, there is help. Get out there… it’s YOUR JOB to get out there... and FIND IT.*
Every year, on this day, when I wake in the morning and look at the calendar, it's just another day… but then I see my phone screen displaying today’s date to me. The phone tells me that it’s Nine Eleven, and I get a sinking pit of a feeling in my stomach. A feeling of doom and gloom. It feels like in a nightmare when I am falling and there is no end ever to the fall; and then wake up scared to death. But that feeling stays with me all day. It’s a feeling of aching and utter real, raw, sadness. And I feel it every single year, without fail, on September 11.
From that point forward in the morning it becomes a very different day than any other of the calendar year. It becomes a very difficult day for me. A day I push myself forward with an extra amount of force. Force necessary to complete my tasks and go about a normal day of activity.
Saying good morning to my husband. And then our first words to each other this day: ‘It’s Nine Eleven.’
Talking on the phone.
Reading and watching the news.
Going to the library.
Tipping the barista a bit extra today at Starbucks.
Crying as I write this.
Choosing a very happy comedy or adventure-filled film to watch this evening with my husband, and my dog-who didn’t live through that day upon this Earth. Choosing a comedic film to not add any more sadness to my day than necessary.
Saying goodnight to the most solemn and somber day of the year.
On Nine Eleven, 2001, I was at the very beginning of my junior year of college. I abruptly quit the cross country team at the start of that school year, after two years of running NCAA Division III collegiate athletics. I always thought it was a rash decision, but I went with my gut, and my gut feeling does not fail me. I also quit winter and spring track, right then and there as well. Fiercely independent - I had always wanted and craved to run on my own; and this decision allowed me to give more time and focus toward my very expensive college education. My grades were not where I wanted them to be. I only had so much time and energy; I was spreading myself too thin. I was confident in my decision and never wavered from it.
My grades immediately improved with that action. I knew I made the right decision. I made a lot of important life decisions during that school year. I became engaged to be married. I moved off campus and into the condo my fiancé and I purchased in the spring of junior year. I continued onward with my schooling. I worked. I planned my wedding. But when I think back on my junior year of college, I always remember that it began with Nine Eleven.
On Nine Eleven I was safe at college in Illinois, tucked far away from the terror taking place to my East. Being in the Midwest, I never happened to know anyone directly affected by the attacks on America that day. And I spent most of that day in the dorm rooms of my friends, watching coverage on tv. That was all you could watch. Everything else stopped. Not being directly affected by the attacks at all, and feeling the way I do each year on Nine Eleven... I cannot even bear to imagine the pain and suffering of people who were directly affected in any way by the attacks.
Being of college age when the terrorist attack upon America occurred, I believe I am a member of the in-between generation. Or, what I am calling the “Floating Generation.” Listen up if you are about my age and ever wondered what generation you fall in. Are you a millennial? Or a Gen X’er? I used to question my generational status all the time. Some days I thought with 100% certainty that I am a Millennial. Then, other days, I think, those silly Millennials!!! I canNOT relate to them at all! There’s no way I am a millennial, am I? I realized that people my age have our very own and very distinct generation. I hover. And float. The Floating Generation. I hover and I float between generational skills and beliefs. I float back and forth and go where the waves of time take me. I can balance that paper checkbook very easily if the internet went down. I can use Apple Pay at McDonald’s in an instant if I forget my wallet. Maybe someday I won’t even carry a wallet? I am a ‘Floater.’ Everyone is born into a distinct generation. It’s up to you to decide which one that is, though, and which one you will put yourself in - even if that means creating your own generation.
I had grown up prior to Nine Eleven. Nine Eleven occurred when I was a very young and very new adult. A young adult making very important life decisions for the very first time. For me and many others, there was life before Nine Eleven and life after Nine Eleven. Just like there was life before smartphones and life after smartphones were invented. And there also existed for us life before social media and life with the advent of social media. Or “Life Before Facebook” as I commonly say. I am of the American generation who has experienced both eras. I lived and survived life before the internet and now live with the internet a part of my life every single day. I know how to live with Facebook, although I have chosen to now continue life without a Facebook account. I know how to balance a paper checkbook, and will be forever and eternally grateful for the banking app on my phone home screen that keeps track of everything for me now. I float back and forth between the two eras, quite easily adapting to any situation on hand, maybe easier than others can adapt. We are adapters. Adapters to the continual and quick-paced changes taking place around us. This Floating Generation appreciates those little things like a bank app more so than any other generation potentially can appreciate it. Because we have seen, experienced, and know both ways of life. Generations coming up and being born now will have those pieces of technology molded into their lives from as long as they can remember back. How will they relate and study and know their past?
At some point in the unknown future, will there exist a generation of humans who don’t know how to live life without a smartphone? Or live life without the internet? I question if the internet will become classified as a public ‘utility’ in the future?... As imperative to life as gas and electricity and air conditioning and heat are now to our way of life? I compare and contrast my life before and life after in my head all the time, as only ones who really and truly experienced both can do so. And I also see life before Nine Eleven, and I see life after Nine Eleven. We are definitely a different nation today than we were before the attacks. Just as the entire world is different today directly because of social media’s never-ending presence, as well as the invention of the smartphone.
On future Nine Eleven’s, there will be more new and innovative inventions that will have changed human behavior and communication yet again. When I go to sleep tonight I will know that this day will come again 365 days from now. The world may be far different again next year at this time. And years into the future. One thing will remain the same though. That feeling inside my stomach. That pit. Because all the technology in the world cannot change the real and raw feeling inside a human heart. And stomach. It will be like the ‘Groundhog Day’ film, I think to myself. The same day all over again. Just 365 days apart, not the next morning. Except this year, 2019, there was one difference for me. Today, this Nine Eleven, 2019 - eighteen years later - I came to the realization that an entire generation of Americans are now legal adults who never lived through that horrific day in America. They don’t know what waking on this day feels like to some. They need to know our history. - how and why things can change in an instant. I pray they are taught what happened.
My dad is a World War II history buff. That’s how I have always thought of him. And when I think of his history knowledge, I then think of the show Seinfeld… The episode where Jerry and George see Keith Hernandez. And Jerry tells George that Keith Hernandez is a big Civil War buff. George is fascinated by the statement. He says he’d like to be a buff. What does one have to do to become a buff? He contemplates. My father is one of those such buffs. Sometimes I think he knows more about WWII than some of the generals who fought in the war.
Recently, June 6, 2019, marked the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. I like to educate myself about WWII. I like knowing as many details as I can. I’d like to someday know all that my father knows about WWII. Yet, I know I will never know as much as my father knows. He knows things that WWII movies get factually wrong. When this past 75th Anniversary came and went, I couldn’t help but think at the time, that someday, it will be the 75th Remembrance of Nine Eleven. And then the 100th. Whole generations come and gone. What will American’s think that day, Nine Eleven of the distant and unknown future? Will they be watching television that day, on some strange futuristic device, and see world leaders from all over the globe come together to remember the fateful day of the past? Will people put flags up and wear American flag tees and pins to remember 9/11 that far into the future? They might, and they will, if future generations are taught what happened. A history which is forgotten is a history that may be repeated. If something is forgotten, how does one learn anything at all from that something?
To the new and waking and growing generations of American’s out there - this is what Nine Eleven feels like to some of your fellow Americans. And next year, on Nine Eleven, Twenty Twenty, we will feel this way again. This is why the American Flag is brought out specifically today, hung proudly outside homes and businesses and in window displays and waving from vehicles all across the country. This is why news coverage is different today. This is why when you Google something today on your smartphone you will see a sad and somber black ribbon just below the search bar, draped gently over the American Flag; a Flag who mourns a loss from 18 years ago today.
And next year, on Nine Eleven, I already know on that morning I will again wake and I will again look at my calendar and see the date; and a sinking pit of a sad and heartbreaking feeling will fall upon my stomach. That Groundhog Day repetitive feeling will come upon me again. Reliving the day with heartache and a profound sadness. And I will go out into society to get coffee, and I will tip the barista something extra that day - whether I can afford to or not. Living the same day, with the same feelings and emotions, again. And tears will come again. Without end on that day of the calendar, Nine Eleven. For the rest of my life. I will never forget.
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