Thursday, July 4, 2013

Memphis Belle

Back in World War II our bomber crews would give their aircraft names.  Along with an appropriate picture, the name would be painted near the nose of the plane.

One of the more famous B-17s of the war was the Memphis Belle.  Air crews needed to fly 25 missions, and then they could go home.  The crew of the Memphis Belle flew their 25th and final mission on May 17, 1943.  That was the day my brother was born.

There's a movie.  It's a good movie, but my response to it is deeper than that.  Generally speaking I don't cry in movies.  I cry for the Memphis Belle.

Children tend to accept things the way they are.  I was born in 1947.  I had a mother and a father.  For the first several years of his life, my brother had a mother.  And, of course, she was a single mom.  What was that like?

Aerial combat is beautiful until it's not.  W. Eugene Smith, who became a famous Life magazine photographer, started out shooting the air war in the Pacific.  His photographs were gorgeous.  Then he switched to the ground war.  His photographs changed.  He changed.

The movie does a good job of juxtaposing the beauty and the mayhem in the air.  And then there's the yearning of young men who, having done their duty, just want to go home.

My father was a doctor, and he didn't get shot at a whole lot.  Mainly he patched up other people.  Still, I see a piece of him in this movie that I didn't see when I was growing up.  I'm very glad Daddy got home.

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