I live in one of the lowest income neighborhoods in New York. I’ve lost track of the amount of homeless military veterans I encounter on my daily routine over the last several years since my return to the civilian world, and those are just the ones who make it obvious — a piece of clothing with a military emblem or unit insignia, a sign scribbled on cardboard noting their history, or simply a few words mentioned as they rattle a cup of change. The inability of our nation to provide for our most vulnerable is one of our greatest failures, and the sting of that shame is particularly palpable when we fail to protect those who have sacrificed everything to ensure its existence.
That is the frame of reference I come from when viewing this trailer for Da 5 Bloods, the newest film from the legendary director Spike Lee.
From the press release:
“From Academy Award® Winner Spike Lee comes a New Joint: the story of four African-American Vets — Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) — who return to Vietnam. Searching for the remains of their fallen Squad Leader (Chadwick Boseman) and the promise of buried treasure, our heroes, joined by Paul’s concerned son (Jonathan Majors), battle forces of Man and Nature — while confronted by the lasting ravages of The Immorality of The Vietnam War.”
The Global War on Terror that began after the September 11th terrorist attacks is not over. After nearly 18 years, The United States of America is embroiled in the longest sustained conflict in its history, greatly surpassing our time in the Vietnam conflict. That war left deep wounds, physically and mentally, for those who fought it and for our society at home that experienced upheaval in its wake. The war we live through today brings its own set of horrors and social anxieties. My fear is that the sacrifices, the mistakes, and the important lessons learned from 40 years ago and from this past decade will be forgotten. We say “never forget” and we say “thank the troops,” yet so many of our brothers and sisters languish in poverty, sickness, and misery.
It is perhaps misguided to ask movies to take the place of true collective introspection. However, film is our greatest shared cultural language and from the looks of this trailer, Da 5 Bloods will stoke those flames of reckoning. I for one cannot wait.
Here are some links to a few organizations that can provide information about and help for veterans: