Recently, I watched a beautiful movie starring Kevin Bacon titled “Taking Chance.” It touched my heart so much that I knew I was meant to write about it.
“Taking Chance” is based on a true story about the experiences of Marine Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl (Bacon), who escorts the body of fallen Marine PFC Chance Phelps back to his hometown after being killed in the Iraq War.
His journey as the soldier’s escort begins at the Dover Mortuary where Phelps was being respectfully prepared for transfer. Because of his injuries, it was to be a closed casket at the funeral. Strobl is given Phelps’ personal affects in a velvet bag and was instructed that they were not to leave his hands under any circumstances.
When Strobl arrived at the airport to get his ticket, the agent, knowing his mission and with tears in her eyes, upgrades him to first class. Every time the casket was loaded onto another airplane, Strobl stood by and saluted. Any airport personnel and passengers nearby also stood by and paid their respects. At one point, the casket needed to stay overnight in the airport hanger, so Strobl decided to sleep next to the casket rather than stay in a hotel.
On the final leg of the journey by vehicles, an impromptu funeral procession forms on the highway as people in other vehicles realized that the one vehicle is carrying a fallen soldier. They turn on their lights and follow rather than trying to continue to pass.
When Strobl finally gets to meet the soldier’s family and friends, he finds out more about the life of the fallen soldier, how loved he was, and how much he would be missed.
This movie touched my heart and I cried numerous times while watching. I had no idea that our fallen soldiers were treated with such great care and dignity during their entire journey home. The respect that complete strangers showed towards another complete stranger in a casket was overwhelmingly beautiful.
We have many military personnel who return from the war and some are fortunate to come home healthy and sane, while others come home broken in mind, body, and/or spirit. We need to take care of all of them, and not just the ones who arrive home in a casket.
I would like to honor all of our military personnel and to thank them for their service. We bless you, honor you, love you, and appreciate you! My dream is that one day, you will no longer need to sacrifice your lives in any kind of war and that the world will one day be at peace.
“All Gave Some, Some Gave All. Some stood through for the red, white, and blue, and some had to fall. And if you ever think of me, think of all your liberties and recall…Some Gave All.” (“Some Gave All” written by Billy Ray Cyrus and Cindy Cyrus)
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper August 18, 2017.