Sunday, April 22, 2012

Flags in the Sand

Friday night, I went to see a movie at the theater on base. It was the new Three Stooges feature and having been a fan of the Stooges since I was a boy I was really looking forward to seeing this remake. I had seen several of the previews prior to leaving the US and the casting of the lead roles seemed to be spot on. 

If you've ever seen an old war movie or an episode of M*A*S*H you may have watched a scene where the soldiers go to see a movie in a tent In most of those old shows you had a large group of GIs sitting in a very small tent sitting on folding chairs or benches watching a movie shown by a projector that was using a sheet as a screen.  The air would appear to be thick with cigarette smoke and quite often the troops would complain about the number of times they had seen that particular movie. Things here are a bit different.

The theater on Arifjan is located inside a building that also houses the recreation center.   Movies are shown in a large multi-purpose auditorium. One of the nice things about it is that there are movie theater style seats, but every other row has been removed to make getting in and out quick and efficient -- probably for security reasons. The screen is not a real screen, but movies are shown on the back wall of the building that has been painted white.  The films are changed every couple of nights and some nights they even show a double feature.

Movies on a military base start differently than those shown anywhere else. They start with the playing of the National Anthem. I will guarantee you that when the Star-Spangled Banner started playing that night everyone in the theater came to attention when it started and did not speak or move until the last note was sounded when they sat back down. It is an awesome feeling to realize you're sitting in a room full of people that are just as patriotic as yourself.

Instead of previews, we were treated to a safety film. I really think I would rather have seen previews but I wasn't given the choice.  But I do know how to put out a grease fire now.

The movie itself was great, after a while I could completely ignore the fact that there was an electrical outlet in the middle of the wall that served as a screen. People laughed, applauded, and generally enjoyed the film. It wasn't that the movie was that great, although I would give it 8 out of 10, it was the fact that it was something different and something from home. Those couple of hours we were no longer sitting in Kuwait, we were all in her hometown theaters watching the film.
When the film ended, everyone filed out quietly and went back to whatever duty it was that they had to accomplish at that point in time. For me, I jumped in my car and headed back to my apartment.

The next day, one of my brigade's battalions was heading home. In that same theater, I attended an awards ceremony and medals were presented to those soldiers who had done a great job in the war zone and supporting those that were in the war zone. That particular ceremony started with a single female soldier singing the Star-Spangled Banner. She did so without music and it was obvious she was fighting back tears by the end of the song.

There a lot of things to think about here on a day-to-day basis -- what I do  -- the beneficiaries of my labors. I'm closer now to the Warfighters I support than at any other time since becoming a government civilian.  Patriotism is always right under the surface. Sometimes you feel it more than others -- -- but one of the things about being here that is surprising is that you can feel it while doing something as simple as going to a movie or attend an award ceremony.

As far as the movie goes:  If you're a Three Stooges fan -- -- go see it. They have managed to fit almost every gag that the Stooges ever did into one movie. If you squint your eyes a little bit, you will swear that you're watching the original Curly and not actor Will Sasso. His performance alone was worth the price of admission.

By the way,  I did figure out how to tie my sehmaugh!  Bring on the dust!


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