Issue of April 15, 2018

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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Saving Ryan

The early morning sun shining gloriously was a fitting tribute to the men, soldiers of World War II last April 9 in what we call the Araw ng Kagitingan. There were at least six veterans, aged yet making a feeble but dignified attempt to stand and salute the flag, as Philippine Military Academy cadets in their full dress uniform fired their rifles in the air for the 21-gun salute with a lone trumpeter playing “taps” as background music. In front of them cast in marble were the names of those who went ahead to the happy hunting grounds, trumpeting that MacArthur discourse at West Point that “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”

Reminds me of the Tom Hanks movie of the old, “Saving Private Ryan,” where as Captain John Miller, he leads a pack of soldiers behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers were earlier killed in combat. Confronted by the difficult task of relaying the sad news to their mother, the Army high brass decides to alleviate her grief to save the fourth, Ryan and bring him back home.

After struggling with the superior German forces and having two of his men killed in the process, the rangers’ team finds Ryan in the town of Ramelle defending a bridge with other paratroopers. Miller tells Ryan about his orders to bring him home. Shocked and saddened as he was at the loss of his brothers, he refuses to leave but asks the Captain to tell his mother instead that he will not leave and that he intends to stay “with the only brothers he has left.” They all stayed to defend the bridge against the attack. As the smoke cleared, Miller ends up dying in the hands of Ryan uttering his last words, “James...earn this. Earn it.”

The otherwise solemn affair was marred by an insensitive remark about an out-of-place topic like the parking facility at Burnham Park, drugs, and traffic. Riding on the sentiments of uninformed screaming faggots, he desecrated the hallowed grounds of the Veterans Park with non-sequitur phrases good for telenovelas though at the expense of his colleagues. Good thing we have Hizzoner, our own Ryan in our midst who put the “round” headed one in his proper place and telling him off not to mislead our people for his own aggrandizement. It would be good to have people like Ryan who would fight tooth and nail for your battles.

At the end, Ryan, now an elderly veteran, stands at attention at the grave of Capt. Miller thanking the officer for saving him. He asks his wife if he is a “good man” worthy of their sacrifices, to which she tells him he is. Ryan comes to attention and salutes Miller’s grave – a poignant story of the brutal realties of war, which in our way we are fighting in these present times. Like all of us in this world, we are in constant search for our kind of Ryan as we embark on our personal journeys and discover our own strengths to triumph over an uncertain future with honor, honest, decency, and courage. Sigh!

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