This Wednesday is Veterans Day, which historically celebrates the end of World War I, but has more recently focused on honoring active servicemen and women. With engagements on-going in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is a good time to focus on the efforts of these service people in the line of fire and recent veterans of these combat actions. The mass media has been trying to use this Veterans Day period to honor service people. It’s also a good time to review the programs and projects with timely themes, of which there have been several in the past year.
One place where Veterans Day has been mentioned quite a few times is in sports programming. The NFL radio and television coverage of the past weekend recognized groups of military men and women in the stands at games, mentioned Veterans Day on the broadcasts and aired PSAs (public service announcements) about cooperation between the NFL and the U. S. Army. No doubt the NBA and NHL will have similar efforts during their games on Wednesday. News programs will cover Veterans Day ceremonies in Washington and elsewhere. Regrettably, the recent tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas is dominating the news at the moment but by Wednesday the focus should return to the vast majority of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who are just doing their jobs in service to their country. Watch for mention of any of the several private and military community efforts to bring care packages and other relief to those serving in the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. On the local level there will probably be visits to military and Veteran Administration hospitals. If a need is identified, get involved if possible.
Some of the broadcast and cable networks are featuring special programs for this remembrance holiday. Military Channel is premiering Return Salute, in which three returning veterans are seen being honored with their special wishes, Wednesday night. On Veterans Day and other times during the week Military Channel is airing Timewatch: Last Day of WWI, several episodes of its Medal of Honor series and Return to Tarawa, reviewed on GreatHistory.com during its premiere last April. During the day the History Channel is airing a documentary about the “Tunnel Rats,” assigned to destroy a network of enemy tunnels in Vietnam, on Modern Marvels and several World War II episodes of its popular series Battle 360. On the spin-off channel Military History, Civil War Combat features “The Battle of First Manassas.”
PBS will be premiering a documentary with a title that, on first glance, doesn’t sound appropriate on a day we honor combat veterans, “The Airmen and the Headhunters,” on Secrets of the Dead. In fact, it’s a fascinating story of a little-known incident in World War II that featured cooperation and valor among some unlikely partners. The program will be reviewed on GreatHistory.com shortly.
Looking back on past GreatHistory.com stories, two special presentations seem appropriate to mention. Taking Chance from HBO Films (now on DVD) starred Kevin Bacon in a story about a military escort who accompanied a soldier killed in Iraq to his final resting place. The escort mission really took hold as a tradition after World War I. The feature documentary Brothers at War, in which a filmmaker documents his two brothers and others serving in Iraq, premiered last spring and is in limited release. Not yet reviewed on GreatHistory.com but receiving much award attention is the dramatic film The Hurt Locker about an explosive demolitions team in Iraq.