What A Difference!
Colonel Donald J. Myers USMC (Ret.)
During the memorial day weekend, a couple of the cable networks showed an array of war movies one after another. It was fascinating to watch how the
military was depicted at different times. What was more fascinating was the
number of stars during World War II who volunteered to serve in the
military with many of them risking their lives in combat roles. Clark
Gable and Jimmy Stewart immediately come to mind while flying bombers in Europe. Several went into the Marines to include Lee
Marvin who was wounded on one of the islands and Tyrone Power who was a marine
pilot. Humphrey Bogart served in World War I and tried to enlist in WWII, but
was refused because of his age. Audie Murphy was the most decorated
soldier and Neville Brand was the fifth most decorated in WWII. To see an
entire list go to "Actors in WWII" and you will be amazed at the
names and more so with the numbers.
Many of the stars who did not serve actively, participated in bond drives or entertained the troops overseas. Bob Hope continued doing that almost until he died. These shows were well appreciated by the troops. Sad to say, but I never had the opportunity to see any of these shows during my many tours overseas to include combat.
The movies themselves sent a message to the audiences throughout WWII and into the fifties. That message was patriotism and support for the American servicemen. In many instances, the enemy was depicted in a very biased nature, but remember we were fighting for our survival and early on, the outcome was in doubt.
Starting in the 60's, the mood changed and many movies depicted the military in a negative manner. The movie "Platoon" showed every negative aspect of the Vietnam War and presented all these negative aspects in one platoon as if that was the norm. Nothing could be further from the truth. The troops who served in
The only positive movie during that time was "The Green Berets" and it was panned by the media. Years later "We Were Soldiers" was released and it showed the Army in a positive light and was quite reliable in following the book, "We Were Soldiers Once and Young."
We had over 11 million people serving in the military during WWII and according to the government, there are only about one million vets surviving.
Donald J. Myers, a retired colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a regular columnist for Hernando Today. He lives in Spring Hill and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.