Even though the American troops are victorious in this battle, one cannot help but be struck by the fact that the lives of many wonderful young Americans (not to mention the Vietnamese) were lost in an ultimately futile cause. Moore’s book itself ends with a quotation from the Prussian military strategist Clausewitz: "No one starts a war — or, rather, no one in his senses ought to do so — without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to achieve it." (Something we should certainly contemplate as the possibility of an American invasion of Iraq looms).
One of the coolest things about DVDs is that they often contain scenes that were deleted from a film’s original release. The scenes are usually deleted to shorten the movie and/or improve its pacing. The scenes deleted from this film are truly amazing. I don’t know how the director, Randal Wallace, could have cut them. (Actually, I admire Wallace’s ability to cut such good material. I’ve preached many a sermon that would have been better if I had left some stuff out, but some things are just hard to cut.)
The deleted scene over which Wallace admitted that he grieved the most depicts a Sunday worship service (the battle began on a Sunday) at a protestant chapel at Fort Benning, Georgia. Many of the soldiers’ wives are present at the service. They had put on a brave face in front of their husbands as they left for battle, but now their brave façades were beginning to crack. One of them stands in front of the congregation and begins to sing a solo, “On Christ the Solid Rock.” She falters after she sings the opening lines: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame…” She apologizes and attempts unsuccessfully to start again. Finally, Julie Moore (Col. Moore’s wife) begins to sing the chorus, “On Christ the solid Rock, I stand—All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.” She is joined by others in the congregation. This give the soloist, the strength to go on with the verse: “When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.” The scene is made even more powerful because among the actors in the congregation are the real Hal and Julie Moore and the real Barbara and Cami Geoghean (Barbara’s husband, John, was a young lieutenant killed in the battle. Cami was their daughter).
As I contemplated this deleted scene, I realized that much of our lives is like that. Many of the scenes of our lives are open to public but there are those other scenes that the public does not see. It is there that our true selves are often revealed. Some scenes we would be embarrassed for others to see. But it is also out of public view that often a person’s true struggles are revealed and also the faith that enables them to face life’s challenges. As in the movie’s deleted scene, it is often in the context of church that we allow our public faces to drop and we become “real” to one another. Such times are moments of grace and power.
©2002 C. David Hess