Commonwealth Commentary Newsletter
       J. Dori Callahan     

A movie about sacrifice and duty shames our modern attitudes
A few days ago, I experienced “Saving Private Ryan,” and my thoughts continue to dwell on the vivid details of combat depicted and the sounds of battle.
The war raged and the audience sat in breathless silence as soldiers were slaughtered while disembarking from landing crafts on Omaha Beach. I thought of my father's time and the bravery of men back then. How they diligently served in the armed services out of a sense of obligation to God, country, or family - not out of choice, but duty.
Days later, residue of the movie still clings to my memory, along with a stark comparison of what was then and what is now.
Growing up some 50-plus years ago in a town where everyone knew his neighbor by first name, where drugs were something used when one was sick, and where an eight-year old could walk safely home from a Saturday night movie without harassment from human debris, life was good.
It was a time when children were taught honor and respect for parents and teachers and held accountable for adhering to these teachings. And children were chastened when disobedient.
It was an era of toy guns for playing cops-and-robbers and a clear understanding that real guns were for hunting, and of dads who provided the instructions as to when and where that hunting would be. And no one questioned dad's authority.
In that time, movie heroes didn't lie, steal, or cheat on their wives or jump into bed within the first five minutes of the picture. Foul language was a bad-guy thing and was rarely if ever used on the screen or
on the radio. Almost all movies had happy endings, or at least left a lasting impression that crime did not pay and bad guys suffered severe consequences for wrongdoing.
Children were taught respect for the nation and its flag, and many dreamed of one day becoming the most esteemed American of all, The President. If a town was fortunate enough to have a president visit, citizens lined the street in respect.
Religious leaders taught biblical principles without intimidation each Sunday and expected people to live by those principles, admonishing those who strayed.
Real men protected their families and country, and even the lowest of characters had the decency to hide indelicate situations or indiscretions. Promiscuity wasn't considered honorable or a thing practiced by everyone.
Unmarried people living together was not an everyday happening and women who slept around were seldom chosen in marriage by respectable men.
Today we live in an America where moral principles and life standards taught by my father and religious leaders are disregarded; where honesty, loyalty, decency, duty, and dignity are categorized as unnecessary words without real meaning.
We live in an America where religious leaders are strangely silent about unacceptable behavior for fear of offending the guilty; an America where the unborn have no right to life, and adulterous sex in the White House is considered acceptable as long as the economy is good.
We live in an America where one seeking the truth is chastised for inappropriate behavior, while a person unwilling to answer to the truth is a “victim.” We live in a nation where such behavior is not considered wrong; rather uncovering it is wrong.
Appalled by such distorted values, I wonder what happened to my America and the America of the Private Ryans.

J. Dori Callahan

More from J. Dori Callahan

July Issue   ·   Archives   ·   Our Writers   ·   Subscriptions   ·   Site Map   ·   Contact Us   ·   Links