Grassroots Commentary

Obama Versus Ryan

(not Paul, but Saving Private)

By Joan Fischer · Sep. 10, 2012

My husband and I watched 'Saving Private Ryan' on DVD again last night. We had, of course, seen it before.

When we first saw the movie on the big screen back in 1998, it goes without saying that we were moved and deeply touched by the portrayal of what has been called America's 'greatest generation.' What American wouldn't be? Yet last night's viewing was entirely different for us. I am not generally a tearful person, but I was brought to tears more than once during the watching. And my husband had a serious lump in his throat more than once as well. Both of those reactions were absent while sitting together in the theater when we were more than a decade younger than we are today.

After the credits rolled, we attempted to understand why we were so much more deeply affected this time than we were during the previous viewing. Is it because we are fourteen years older and somehow more sensitive? Is it because we were watching the movie in the quiet of our own living room? Is it because the portrayal of that particular portion of our American history is somehow now more personal and meaningful to us than it was more than a decade ago?

The answer, we determined, is none of the above.

The answer is twofold. It lies in (1) our knowledge of the proud and noble history of our country, and (2) our understanding of the degradation of America's leadership since we sat in that theater more than a decade ago.

On a campaign stint in early 2008, the soon-to-be first lady of the United States declared that 'for the first time in her adult life' she is now proud of her country.

On a trip to France in early 2009, at the beginning of his presidency, Barack Obama declared that America has 'failed to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world' and has 'shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive' towards its European allies.

The same France from which Barack Obama spoke those words provides the location of the entire story of 'Saving Private Ryan', the basic plot of which is fiction, but much of the actual footage is not. There is genuine footage of our men landing at Omaha Beach, and genuine footage of some of the land battle as well. Many actual veterans of that campaign were reportedly brought to tears when they saw and heard some of the scenes within the movie, simply because of the realism it portrayed of a portion of their lives that they would prefer to forget. Many World War II veterans are hesitant to voice any memories of the part they played in the war. They simply want to get on with their lives and secure those memories, for as long as they remain living, in a voiceless, yet painfully sacred, corner of their minds.

In the movie, after the D-Day invasion, an army captain leads his squad on a mission to find and bring home Private James Francis Ryan after the death in action of his three brothers. The mission takes them through Nazi occupied territory to make contact with Ryan's unit, an element of the 101st Airborne Division. Once found, Ryan refuses to leave, and the captain in charge of the operation responds, 'Is that what they're supposed to tell your mother when they send her another folded American flag?' To which Ryan responds,

'Tell her that when you found me I was here and I was with the only brothers I have left. And that there was no way I was going to desert them.'

Such was the make-up of most Americans serving during World War II – a sense of duty that declared 'self' secondary, and God, country and family of primary importance – with universal, human, God-given liberty always an understood and indispensable factor in the overall equation.

The two statements made by the first lady and the president – 'first time in my adult life I am proud of America' and America has 'shown arrogance and been dismissive toward its allies' – were not slips of the tongue. They were not aberrational statements of opinion from the leader of the free world and his spouse. The anti-American sentiment expressed in their words are borne out everyday in their actions which are seeking (and, sadly, succeeding) in bringing the real America to her knees, and replacing it with a socialist utopia where a ruling elite reigns supreme.

The consistency of his words and actions since that trip to France in 2009 indicate that the leader of the free world has either little or no understanding of American heritage and history, or unbridled contempt for it, presumably because it does not combine well with his elitist-rule vision of the future of America. Neither condition renders him qualified to serve as Commander in Chief or to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. 

Obama spoke his derisive words about America and her relationship with our 'allies' fewer than five hundred miles from Normandy, where, sixty-eight years ago, on both Omaha and Utah Beaches, close to seven thousand 'arrogant' Americans willingly offered themselves up as casualties of war. 

Two of our current president's most trailblazing accomplishments have been (1) abandoning the time-honored tradition of respecting the legacy of his predecessors and (2) consistently showing irreverence for those duty-bound, courageous patriots who sacrificed – sometimes with their lives – to create the most moral and prosperous nation in the history of mankind, and to stand in the crosshairs of tyrants when the liberties of others were threatened.

Years ago I came upon a picture of a section of the Meuse-Argonne American cemetery in France. The cemetery covers more than 130 acres, and beneath each of those little white specks/crosses in the photo lies the body of an 'arrogant' American – husbands, fathers, sweethearts, sons, brothers who left home and loved ones to travel to foreign soil in the name of freedom. More than fourteen thousand American World War I dead are buried at Meuse-Argonne. I looked intently at the picture and thought about that. I focused on those little white specks – each one of which represents an 'arrogant, dismissive' American to Barack Obama.

France is home to eleven large American military cemeteries. Meuse-Argonne is only one of them. There are also hundreds of thousands of American bodies lying beneath headstones at Arlington National Cemetery, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Flanders Field, Ardennes, Normandy, Florence, Lorraine, Aisne Marne – in cemeteries throughout Europe (the allies that we 'dismiss' and treat with 'derision') and in countless unmarked graves in unknown places. All of those bodies embraced the vision of freedom, law and justice that defines the real America – a vision that they wanted the rest of the world to have the freedom to choose as well.

The current American president spent more than twenty years sitting in a pew listening to sermons delivered by a man who believes that God should 'damn America'. He spent his youth being mentored by men who revile individual liberty and worship the theories of global governance and subjugation of the masses. He has appointed apostles of that creed to most of the major positions in his administration, and his policies have sought to destroy the kind of freedom that hundreds of thousands of Americans fought and died to defend. The men lying beneath those tiny white specks at Meuse-Argonne, and all over Europe, are being declared irrelevant by none other than the president of the country for which they died.

Remember our heroes, in spite of your president's agenda-driven desire that you forget them. They are watching us now from afar, quietly but insistently reminding us of the source and precious value of our liberties, and challenging us to hold those hard-won liberties dear, standing firm against all who would remove them from our grasp. 

Remember them, both those who have left us and those who are now serving on battlefields far from home, facing the prospect of death with each new dawn. And when you cast your ballot on November 6th, see to it that you are voting for two men who share your reverence for those who have gone before, those who have sacrificed, sometimes beyond our ability to comprehend, to preserve the vision of their Founding Fathers.


MAH in Wisconsin said:

To be brutally honest, the only man out of the four that I know for sure shares my reverence and respect for life is Paul Ryan, a fellow Wisconsinite. Here in Wisconsin you can't hide your belief system. Ryan passionately rails against the president without fear of reprisal. I hope this experience does not dull his faithfulness to his convictions. I was not a Romney supporter from the start. Yesterday when I heard that he was not planning to repeal ALL of Obamacare I thought, " Here we go." I knew that Massachussets health care bill would come back to haunt us some way. I was angry and still am, even if what he is saying makes some kind of sense. The point is he promised he would REPEAL Obamacare and has altered that committment before even taking office. Good thing Ryan is on the ticket or it might just say 'Ron Paul'.

Monday, September 10, 2012 at 6:45 PM

joanie-f in PA replied:

No need to apologize for your 'brutal honesty', MAH. Most honesty is brutal in America these days, simply beause it finds itself swimming in a sea of bias, deceit, ignorance and apathy. Once discovered, it tends to hit us smack in the face.

I actually agree with your every word. Romney was far from my choice as well. I am an ardent supporter of Rick Santorum, and have been for more than twenty years.

Romney claims to be a minimum-government conservative and yet is already explaining to us that he will retain the pre-existing condition coverage, and mandate coverage for 26-year-olds under their parents' policies. That is all I have to know to be aware that this candidate does
not respect the government's constitutional boundaries. And yet, as you seem to feel as well, that is not enough for me to stay home or vote for a third party cadidate. Not when Barack Obama is the alternative.

Monday, September 10, 2012 at 10:51 PM

Don Rosen in Upland, CA said:

Oh, Joanie. . .

I don't know where to begin, as I'm sure you can well imagine. I could give you chapter and verse on this subject. Let me just say, Michelle Obama would do well to walk the sands of Omaha Beach at dawn, at low tide, on a chilly late spring morning. It might do wonders for her outlook on her country. Then again, it probably would not.

Monday, September 10, 2012 at 11:43 PM

joanie-f in PA replied:

"It might do wonders for her outlook on her country."

Not a chance, Don. Not a chance.

Monday, September 10, 2012 at 11:53 PM

Rob M in Mesa, AZ said:

Good job connecting the dots. The prospect of this man who literally despises the country he leads gaining a second term is plainly not an option for any thinking American. We need to pray that He will touch the American voter once they step into that booth and help them to realize what is at stake and who brought them to this cliff we're all standing on.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 1:24 AM

Alexander in Australia said:

Obama said Americans have become arrogant.. not always have been. This is nonsensical rubbish, you manipulate people into thinking your way by using dead heroes as your poker stick. Shame on you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 4:07 AM

joanie-f in PA replied:

Since you chose to quibble (rightly or wrongly) with one word out of a 1500 word commentary and, as a result, chose to label the commentary 'rubbish', I see no point in debating with you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 12:43 PM

wjm in Colorado replied:

Most Aussies I have met share our real Patriotic views, but you are an idiot to opine as you do. If you love Obamao, you are no friend of America.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 2:41 PM

GMcG in Arizona said:

Exactly what footage in that movie was "genuine?" None of the Omaha Beach stuff was.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

CMcG Just curious how you know the footage of Omaha Beach was not geniune. Did it have any bearing on the gist of the article? We kept France and Britain from being dominated by Germany twice last century and they were glad to have our help then but could care less about us today. Great allies when we are needed but not so friendly when we are not.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 4:35 PM

GMcG in Arizona replied:

It has nothing to do with the gist of the article but I know it's not genuine because the actors from the movie were running around in it. It wasn't film from the 1940s, it was Hollywood special effects and clearly a modern big-budget picture.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 5:27 PM

joanie-f in PA replied:

I recall reading, when the movie was being made, that Spielberg was going to be using small segments of both genuine landing and land footage. Since your comment, I have searched the internet to find evidence of that and have come up with nothing except his ''desire to re-create actual footage as accurately as possible'. Apparently I have passed on some mis-information. Apologies to current and future readers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 5:42 PM

Dioneikes in Colorado said:

Joan, you did a wonderful job, and the sadness you feel about the state of American values today is the anger I feel towards the root cause of it. I despise our current occupier in chief and his harpy old lady. I despise the liberal left for what they've sold Americans as good and healthy, and for the undermining of the bedrock values that made us a great nation. As a child of the 50's and 60's, I was priveledged enough to grow up in a country that was a giant on the world's stage. No body wanted to mess with us as we were the strongest in the world. Our autos were the envy of all nations, a military that was second to none, and respected by most citizens and politicians.

But then the liberal swine started coming out in the late 1960's to protest our involvement in Vietnam, and its been downhill ever since. The only time there was a resurgence of national pride was in the Reagan years. Clinton and Obamalamadickdick have managed to sully that pride. So now we stand at the gates of Civil War Part Deux. On November 6th we will fight the first of it at the ballot box. If Romney takes the victory, there is hope for our country, if not ... things will get very ugly and very bloody. I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and DOMESTIC when I entered my yearss of service in the military, nothing has ever released me from that oath, and I damn well intend to keep it!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 2:31 PM

joanie-f in PA replied:

Son of Liberty, most of your comment made me feel as though I were reading right out of the pages of Robert Bork's 'Slouching Towards Gomorrah' (one of the best books ever written on the degradation of America since the 60s, I believe).

I, too, grew up in the 50s and 60s and I share your sad observations of that era as opposed to today. The only place where my views diverge from yours are as regards your opinion of post-November 6th America.

First of all, I do not believe Romney/Ryan will win the election, due to the massive apathy and ignorance of the electorate and the unprecedented voter fraud that will undoubtedly take place. If/when Obama wins a second term, I don't believe the outrage will be significant enough to generate a 'very ugly response', given the minimal number of Americans who recognize the depth of the atrocities he has committed against this country, her Constitution and her people.

I pray every day that I am wrong and that November 7th dawns as the beginning of a reclamation of our Founders' vision.

Best to you and yours in these troubling times.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 11:47 PM