Focus on the two ladies: Michelle Thrush, from the Cree Nation in Canada in the black dress, and Misty Upham from the Blackfeet Nation in the USA in a light dress. Misty says they are the first Native Americans to walk the Cannes red carpet. Also, the man right behind Misty is Puerto Rican actor Benicio del Toro. They are doing so for their movie, Jimmy P. Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian.
With today being the Memorial Day holiday in the U.S., I wanted to direct your attention to For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots, a 2010 documentary that traced the journey of this country’s black veterans from the Revolutionary War up until President Barack Obama’s election in 2008.
In the nearly 8-minute clip above, co-writer and director Frank Martin offers some of the insight he gleaned during the making of the documentary:
One of the most shocking things I learned in this film was how the soldiers were treated when they came home,” Martin says. “We talk about Vietnam and how terrible it was when those of us who served in that war — not that I was in Vietnam, but was in the Navy at that time — when we were out of the service, we were told, “Don’t wear your uniform,” when you left the base. “Don’t put your uniform on. You’re not supposed to talk about your service.” You were not greeted as a hero. And we, to this day, continue to talk about how terrible it was, and it was terrible. But that’s how — that’s what happened to every single black soldier that returned from every single war that this country ever fought up and through Korea.
Hosted by Halle Berry and narrated by Avery Brooks, the film has been screened for the National World War II Museum, the Smithsonian and the NAACP, among others. Though originally aired as two 2-hour episodes, a special 9-hour edition is available that includes 3.5 hours of un-aired footage, along with a guide for using it for educational purposes. Below the cut, though, are two segments from the film, each featuring special guests reading service members’ accounts of the situation on the ground.
As many of us here in the United States observe Memorial Day, here are some videos worth watching about veterans from many of our communities.
We’ll begin with a video that was shown here in San Diego earlier this year, at a celebration of the Congressional Gold Medal awarded two years ago to the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and and U.S. Military Intelligence Service (MIS). The unit, composed mostly of Japanese-Americans, would see heavy action during World War II in Europe, and would go on to produce 21 Medal of Honor recipients. This unit’s exploits were chronicled in fictional form in the film Only The Brave, the trailer of which can be seen here.
Shifting focus to Vietnam, here’s the trailer for As Long as I Remember: American Veteranos, Laura Varela’s documentary about Latino Vietnam veterans. While it focuses on three South Texas residents in particular, the statistics cited here reflect the sobering cost of duty in the conflict for many servicemen, particularly when it comes to PTSD.
Last year saw the birth of AIVMI – the American Indian Veterans Memorial Initiative, a campaign led by the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida to add a statue of a Native American soldier along the Vietnam Walkway near the Vietnam Wall on the National Mall in the nation’s capital. Here we have an interview regarding the issue conducted by Kimberlie Acosta at Native Country TV with Tina Osceola from the Seminole Tribe.