You know all those pictures you see on Facebook and other social media sites of someone’s feet with the pool or the ocean in the background? You know the ones that kind of or really make you jealous that you are not enjoying your down time in a similar fashion? Well, this post does not have any of those. It does have a few feet and a beach though and a dog and a cat too.
After working on a production issue at work all morning on July 4th I was planning to eat some lunch and sit back in a Lazy Boy and get a little nap. I browsed the choices on TV to have on as the background for this nap and found Saving Private Ryan was coming on so I tuned in there. I expected to watch the beginning and then dose off. However, Paisley, who was restless that day, had different plans. She wanted to go out often and only wanted to sniff and eat a select blade of grass occasionally so my napping plans were interrupted.
Saving Private Ryan is one of my favorite movies so I was drawn into the story again and did see most of it. I have seen it many times before and have it on DVD, Blu-Ray and on Vudu so I can watch it anytime I want but decided to leave on the 4-hour TV version and use the commercials as Paisley breaks. However, this time as I watched it I came away with something different. You might even call it a Peculiar Perspective.
If you don’t know the story, Mrs. Ryan from Iowa has 4 sons in the war. It has come to the attention of General George C. Marshall, 3 of those brothers had been killed in action and she was due to receive all three of those notifications on the same day. When he learned there was a 4th brother still alive, as far as they knew, who had just been dropped behind enemy lines, he decided to initiate a mission to find Private Ryan and bring him home. You can see a video clip of that scene here, General George C. Marshall – Saving Private Ryan.
Beach and Feet
I told you there was a beach in the story but this is probably not what you expected. This beach happens to be the Dog Green Sector of Omaha Beach on D-Day in World War II. This movie shows the fear the soldiers experienced better than any I have ever seen. Yet, despite that fear, they storm the beach anyway and those who survived the onslaught of gunfire from the hill overlooking the beach did persevere and take that hill and the beach for the Allied Forces. Captain John Miller, played by Tom Hanks, is one of those who survived that mission. He soon finds out his next mission is finding and bringing home Private Ryan.
All of us have our own fears we face every day. They are not on the same level as those storming the beaches on D-Day but they are our fears nonetheless. You might fear hitting publish on a blog post, waking up early to work on your dream, making changes in your life because what you have been doing is not producing the results you want, a big test in school or an important job interview. They are all significant to each of us in our own way. Seeing others who have made sacrifices and faced their fears can encourage us to move forward and take that first or next step. This movie reminds me not only what fear really is and how facing it is critical to keep moving forward but also how insignificant some of the things we call fear really are.
I am Private Ryan
At the end of the movie there is a scene where Private Ryan, speaking to his wife after just remembering the sacrifices made to bring him home, says,
Isn’t that what we all ultimately want, what we want others to be able to say of us when our lives are over, that we lived a good life? Maybe even a wonderful life?
One of the reasons men like action movies is we like to pretend we are the heroes. In my viewing of Saving Private Ryan this time I identified with Private Ryan in this last scene. He IS a hero because he fought to help secure our freedom but not the main hero of the movie, even though his name is in the title.
I want to believe when God decides it is time for me to go home that I have lived a good life and was a good man during my time here on Planet Earth. He, along with my family and anyone else who knows me, knows it has been far from perfect and will continue to be. I do have a cat sitting with me in this picture. That should count for something. At least the cat got a nap.
I do know I have been blessed with much more than I deserve, most importantly a wife who has shared most of this journey with me who has made me a better man, and five children who know I love them and am one of their biggest fans. I hope that means something to them not only while I am still here but long after I am gone too.
“Earn this” is what Captain Miller tells Private Ryan in this scene and what he is trying to evaluate and validate in the previous scene with his wife. That is a reminder to me to take advantage of the time I have with my friends and loved ones today.
Maybe you will watch Saving Private Ryan again or for the first time before you go to the beach again. Maybe the next time you see a picture of feet and the beach you will remember what happened on the beaches at Normandy. Without those men facing their fears and moving forward that day we would all be living in a different world today. I am grateful to all those who have served and sacrificed to allow us to enjoy the freedom we have today in America. That sacrifice gives us the daily opportunity to “Earn this” by the way we live our lives and the freedoms we choose to fight and stand for. I plan to make the most of my opportunities and I hope you do too.
Ronald Reagan described the ongoing battle we are engaged in daily to “Earn this” and keep our freedoms better than I ever could when he said,
We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
Until next time…
Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on October 8, 2017