WE WERE SOLDIERS (2002)

Key Passages
-- approximate times given are marked from the beginning of the first scene of the DVD --
 
0:00:31  Opening Narration

Joe Galloway:  These are the true events of November 1965,  the Ia Drang valley of Vietnam -- a place our country does not remember, in a war it does not understand.  This story is a testament to the young Americans who died in the "valley of death" and a tribute to the young men of the People's Army of Vietnam who died by our hand in that place.  To tell this story I must start at the beginning -- but where does it begin?
 

0:05:46  LTC Moore

Unidentified Neighbor #1:  Tom, how much you know about our new colonel?
Tom:  He was in Korea, has a masters in International Relations from Harvard.
Unidentified Neighbor #1:  He's not one of those academic pussies, is he?
 

0:10:32  The "Air Cav"

Moore:  Welcome to the new cavalry.  We will ride into battle, and this will be our horse.  [A helicopter flies into the entrance of the hanger in which the men are standing.]  You don't have to catch it, don't have to feed it.  But, I can assure you, that neither the new technology, nor your status as officers, will keep you above the danger.
 

0:12:48  "Men will die."

Moore:  We will be landing under fire, gentlemen.  Men will die.
 

0:16:48  Crazy Horse

Moore:  When Crazy Horse was a baby, he nursed from the breast of every woman in the tribe.  The Sioux raise their children that way.  Every warrior called every woman in the tribe "Mother."  Every older warrior, they called him "Grand-father."  Now the point here is that they fought as a family.  Take care of your men, teach them to take care of each other, cause when this starts, each other is all we're going to have.
 

0:20:07  The Wives Finally Meet

Wife #1:  The base washing machines don't work -- they're full of sand from the swamp missions.
Julie Moore:  Alright, I'll take care of that.
Wife #1:  Well, I've already complained.
Julie:  Well, we'll just go to the general.
Wife #2:  In the meantime, the laundromat in town is o.k., but they won't let you wash your colored things in their machines.
Wife #1:  In a public laundromat?
Wife #2:  Didn't make any sense to me either, but I'm telling you, they have a big sign right in the window says "Whites Only."
Wife #3 (black wife):  Honey, they mean white people only.
Wife #2:  That's awful, your husband is wearing the uniform of a country that allows a place to -- to say that his laundry is not good enough when he could die for  . . . . I'm sorry.
Wife #3:  That's alright, honey, but I know what my husband's fighting for, and that's why I can smile.  My husband will never ask for respect, and he will give respect to no man who hasn't earned it, the rest of his family's the same way.  And anybody who doesn't respect that can keep his God-damn washing machine, cause my baby's clothes are gonna be cleaned anyway.
 

0:22:08  Hospital Prayer

2LT Geoghegan:  Colonel, may I ask you a question?  What do you think about being a soldier and a father?
LTC Moore:  I hope that being good at the one makes me better at the other.  Why, what about you?
2lt Geoghegan:  I don't know, Sir.  Between college and here, Barbara and I spent a year in Africa.  We helped build a school for orphans.  They were orphans because the war lord across the border didn't like their tribe.  I know God has a plan for me, I just hope it's to help protect orphans, not make any.
LTC Moore: Well, why don't we ask him; come on, let's go ask him.  Our Father in Heaven, before we go into battle, every soldier among us will approach you each in his own way. Our enemies too, according to their own understanding, will ask for protection and for victory.  And so, we bow before your infinite wisdom.  We offer our prayers as best we can.  I pray you watch over the young man like Jack Geoghegan that I lead into battle.  You use me as your instrument in this awful hell of war to watch over them.  Especially if they're men like this one beside me, deserving of a future in your blessing and goodwill. Amen.
2LT Geoghegan: Amen.
LTC Moore: Oh, yes, and one more thing, dear Lord, about our enemies, ignore their heathen prayers and help us blow those little bastards straight to Hell.  Amen, again.
 

0:24:52  "What is War?"

Cecille:  Daddy, what is a war?
Moore:  A war is something that shouldn't happen, but it does.  It is when some people in another country, or any country, try to take the lives of other people; and then soldiers like your daddy have to -- you know, it's my job to go over there and stop them.
Cecille:  Are they gonna try to take your life away, daddy?
Moore:  Well, yes, Cecille, they are gonna try, but I'm not going to let them.
 

0:32:39  The Big Speech

Moore:  Look around you.  In the 7th Cavalry we've got a captain from the Ukraine, another from Puerto Rico.  We've got Japanese, Chinese, Blacks, Hispanics, Cherokee Indians, Jews, and Gentiles -- all Americans.  Now, here in the States, some men in this unit may experience discrimination because of race or creed.  But, for you and me now, all that is gone.  We are moving into the "Shadow of Death," where you will watch the back of the man next to you as he will watch yours, and you won't care what color he is, or by what name he calls God.  They say we are leaving home -- we're going to what home was always supposed to be.  So, let us understand the situation.  We are going into battle against a tough and determined enemy.  I can't promise you that I will bring you all home alive, but this I swear, before you and before almighty God, that when we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off, and I will leave no one behind.  Dead or alive, we will all come home together.  So help me God.
 

1:21:45  Galloway's Reasoning

Galloway:  I didn't think I could stop the war, I just thought maybe I might try n' understand one, maybe help the folks back home understand.  I just figured I could do that better shootin' a camera than I could shootin' a rifle.
 

2:09:00  Coming Home

Galloway:  Some had families waiting.  For others, the only family would be the men they bled beside.  There were no bands, no flags, no honor guards to welcome them home.  They went to war because their country ordered them to, but in the end they fought not for their country or their flag -- they fought for each other.
 

2:09:33  Moore Writes a Letter

Moore:  Dear Barbara, I have no words to express to you my sadness for the loss of Jack.  The world is a lesser place without him.  But I know he is with God and the angels, and even Heaven has improved by his presence there.  I know you too are sure of this, and yet this knowledge can't diminish his loss or your grief.  With abiding respect and affection, Hal Moore.
 

2:10:33  A Final Thought

Galloway:  We who have seen war will never stop seeing.  In the silence of the night we will always hear the screams.  For this is our story -- for we were soldiers once, and young.
 
 

Copyright (c) 2003 by Catherine Elizabeth Breckenridge, Undergraduate at Lehigh University.

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