I was going through a box of things in a storage space under the stairs in my home and I found (among other things) a photo copy of an op-ed piece that I wrote and submitted to the Record Journal. It was printed on September 4, 2000. I couldn’t know at the time that a year and a week later it would be Tuesday, September 11, 2001 and my perspective would shift once again.
Below is the text of what I wrote that day. Today as the snow falls I think of the holidays.
To every enlisted individual that cannot be home because they are serving and protecting as well as to those that made the ultimate sacrifice and will never come home again, from my family to yours, thank you for the gift of freedom that I can never repay.
Thank you for our freedom - Jason Zandri, Special to the Record-Journal
Wallingford resident Jason Zandri, 31, is a computer engineer at Tek Systems in Windsor.
I am sitting here trying to figure out what it is I missed from the movie "Saving Private Ryan." Don't get me wrong. I am an avid fan of movies, I have a personal collection of over 2,400. I thought the movie was well-written, well-acted, and looked very authentic. What I tried to get out of it was the realism of the film that everyone was always talking about. It captured the atrocities of the military landings and the war itself so well, that it caused some veterans to have flashbacks of their own experiences.
I just didn't get that type of "movement" from the film. It didn't cause me to enjoy it any less, but it did make me think about some things. As I sit here between two holidays, Memorial Day and Veteran's Day, honoring all of those who served our country, I felt guilty about not getting the "movement" out of the film that I had heard and read about from so many different people.
I felt that I should have been able to.
I then suddenly began to realize why I could not get the depth of emotion out of the movie that so many others did. I really do not have a strong enough connection to ANY war to have any solid emotion for it, one way or the other.
I have worked so many hours straight and been so busy that I didn't have enough time to stop and eat, and although I was "starving," I really, truly don't have a clue what it is to be hungry like someone that has no food. I have no proper point of reference for the tragedies of any war that had transpired.
I was born in 1969. Even though I was a child during the last chapters of the Vietnam War, my earliest recollections of it were from reading the veteran's stories about it in the newspapers that I delivered. To me, that was the last "significant" war we were really involved with as a country, heart and soul, for or against. Everything after that, our true involvement was limited. The losses and the sacrifices were the same, it's just that our involvement as a nation was not as strong.
I still was trying to figure out why I was not as sensitive to the images.
There had to be a little more to it than just "no proper point of reference." A new movie has come out that answered that question for me - "The Patriot." Most Americans would be forced to admit that they view the Fourth of July as a holiday of picnics and fireworks. Yes we all know it is in celebration of our independence, but its meaning today is far different than what it was. That is not because it is not important to anyone but more so the fact that all of us are so far removed from the horror, tragedy and loss of THAT war, that while we celebrate our freedom we FORGET what was involved to secure it.
I am almost certain that as we moved away from that period in time, the veterans of that important war felt the same way that today's veterans think; people today just don't seem to realize just exactly what we went through to secure the freedoms that we enjoy and take for granted.
I am not justifying the reasoning behind it, but coming to realize the error.
Allowing myself to put my mind in a place where I forget what was really involved. I also allowed myself a little bit of "slack" due to the fact that all the while I was growing up I never had to worry about the possibility of losing my freedom or going to war, but I quickly pulled that slack back. It is exactly because of the dedication and sacrifices of the men and women of the armed forces, and their families, that I could be granted the luxury of not having to worry.
To every veteran of any war I say this. On behalf of Generation X, and the Boomers too, thank you for our freedom. A freedom so well fortified that I believe in my heart and soul we will never lose it.
Rest well, knowing that our ignorance is mainly due to the fact that you have all done your duty fighting for our country so well that we will probably never again have to work that hard or bear that much personal cost to maintain our freedom.
Thank you for securing a peace, while fragile, so well-balanced that I will probably never have to live through any true hardship. Thank you for making America what it is today, more so than any politician ever did, "...land of the free and the home of the brave."
Copyright 2000, 2006 Record-Journal