Honoring active-duty military, veterans, their families and the communities they come from, U.S. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, General Craig R. McKinley and the National Guard Bureau, Military to Medicine and POV presented the highly-acclaimed film Where Soldiers Come From at a special screening on November 1, 2011, in Washington, D.C.
If it’s true that a military-civilian divide exists, the audience at the screening bridged the divide and nearly filled the Capitol Visitor Center theater. Connections were made, partnerships were built and, for some civilians, war became less abstract.
General Craig R. McKinley, who heads the National Guard Bureau, opened the event with inspiring remarks, encouraging the audience to think about all of our service members when we watch this film, not just the National Guard, and to consider the variety of challenges taking place throughout our military and nation. Senator Levin of Michigan continued with words of pride and admiration for the National Guard members from his state, and said the film struck close to home for him in an honest, true way. Patricia Harrison, CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, closed out the opening with a short synopsis of the film and echoed the senator’s remarks, saying she believed the film would stay with you long after you see it. View a video of the opening remarks:
The screening was followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Heather Courtney and three subjects from the film, Dominic Fredianelli, Cole Smith and Mary Witting-Smith (Cole’s mother). One of the most compelling parts of the discussion revolved around how war had changed the soldiers. Filmmaker Heather Courtney recalled early interviews, noting changes in their faces and in the way they carried themselves. She felt like she saw a loss of innocence. Dom and Cole expressed difficulties in watching those older interviews because they saw it, too.
View highlights from the discussion:
In the lobby, following the screening, it was clear that audience members were deeply moved, leaving with a greater understanding of the sacrifices made by service members and their families. It was a special evening, a hallmark for POV that exemplified the power of public media to reach a wide range of America — decision makers, opinion shapers, you and me — to stimulate dialogue and to put a human face on important social issues.
We thank everyone who championed this film and made the event possible — General Craig R. McKinley and The National Guard Bureau, Senator Levin and his gracious staff, Military to Medicine, CPB and PBS.