I went to the movies last weekend. For once, I didn't have to go alone. In fact, I had the honor of taking my oldest daughter - the one that's most like me. I like taking her to the show because she doesn't tell on me when I buy the large-sized popcorn and have them squirt on a little bit of extra butter, and my two youngest children do.
The movie we saw was "Flags of Our Fathers," which is a pretty darned good World War II flick about the marines that raised the flag on Iwo Jima.
I have to warn you, though, that it wasn't a real easy movie to watch. It wasn't very pretty because it was a realistic movie about war. Let's face it, war is never pretty.
In fact, the men in the movie went through pure hell trying to take that tiny little island away from the Japanese. But they did it because they were told to, and they helped save the world in the process.
Actually, the movie was as much about a photograph as it was about the battle - the famous photograph of the flag going up on the summit of Mount Suribachi. The historical event occurred, by the way, during the first week of a monthlong battle that cost almost 7,000 American lives.
According to the movie, that photograph ran on the front page of just about every newspaper in the country and galvanized the whole nation behind our soldiers.
When the movie was over, a whole bunch of us just sat there - staring at an empty screen - lost in our own thoughts. Now, I don't know what the other folks were thinking, but I was thinking about how times have changed.
We have soldiers - hundreds of thousands of them, men and women - stationed all around the globe at this very moment, and they are putting their lives on the line, just like those men did in World War II, to protect our freedoms. And like the folks in World War II, they are doing it because they are told to. Not a single one of them gets to make policy. They only get to carry it out.
And they are good men and good women and they are doing a heck of a job.
But there are just too many folks back home who don't seem to support them - or what they are doing - and the good Lord knows it's been a long time since any of us have seen a galvanizing photograph on the front page of every newspaper in our country.
In fact, the opposite is quite true, and this week we had to endure listening to a man who is old enough to know better undermine the very men and women who are fighting - and dying - on our behalf.
This is what John Kerry said, to a group of college students in Pasadena, Calif. "You study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
He might as well have spit on every soldier in harm's way. The implication is clear as a bell that every man and woman serving in Iraq is there because he or she was somehow defective in his or her academic pursuits, and it doesn't matter who tries to spin it differently or make excuses for him, that is what he said and those are the implications.
And once he said it, he wasn't man enough to admit his mistake and apologize, instead claiming that the remarks were a "botched joke."
A couple of weeks ago, on a sunlit afternoon in Sanford Stadium, a photograph was flashed onto the giant screen at the west end of the stadium of a beautiful young lady in a camouflaged battle helmet.
She had one of the greatest smiles I have ever seen. Her name was Ashley Henderson Huff. She was a 2004 graduate of UGA, a member of Sigma Kappa sorority and a huge Bulldog fan. And on Sept. 19, her vehicle detonated an explosive devise near Mosul, Iraq, and she was killed. That's why they were flashing her picture onto the screen.
According to my friend Dan Ragsdale, who knows about such things, the ovation given Ashley was one of the longest in Sanford Stadium history. Huff wasn't stuck in Iraq because she couldn't cut it in college. She excelled in college and chose to go to Iraq and serve her country. She was one of the best among us, as are the others who are still in harm's way.
Those soldiers are still protecting that same flag that the Marines raised on Iwo Jima 60 years ago.
Long may it wave. And may Kerry fade away into the political sunset - the sooner the better.
Darrell Huckaby is an author and teacher in Rockdale County. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have any thoughts about this column? Share them with us at email@example.com. Letters should be no more than 200 words and are subject to approval by the publisher. Letters may be edited for style and space requirements. Please sign your name and provide an address and a daytime telephone number. Address letters for publication to: Letters to the Editor, Gwinnett Daily Post, P.O. Box 603, Lawrenceville, GA 30046-0603. The fax number is 770-339-8081.