Film brings painful reminder for vets


LOS ANGELES, Aug. 3 — For the second week in a row, Steven Spielberg’s movie about D-Day and beyond, “Saving Private Ryan,” was No. 1 at the box office. The film’s graphic depiction of combat is striking a chord with audiences, but many of those buying the tickets know all too well the reality of the combat scenes.
Film brings painful reminder for vets
       “IT WAS the best war movie that I’ve ever seen,” said Ray Nance of Bedford, Va., a company commander in the D-Day landing. “And I’ve seen ‘The Longest Day.’”
       The town of Bedford, population 6,000, is too small to have its own movie theater, so residents have to drive 30 miles to see the movie. But this is a place that lost 23 of its sons in the Normandy invasion, so there’s a great deal of curiosity in town about how that event is portrayed on the screen.
       Lucille Boggess lost her two older brothers in the invasion. The movie, she says, brought back the tragic memories of their deaths.
       “I can very well remember on Sunday morning when that first telegram came and then on Monday the second telegram came, so our family was devastated. And I know my mom never got over it.”
       At the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in Washington, D.C., they’ve set up a special hot line where vets, upset by the movie, can vent their feelings. There have been hundreds of calls so far, 172 of the callers required counseling.
       Some vets who have talked to NBC say that while “Saving Private Ryan” is intense and disturbing, no movie, no matter how skillfully made, can capture the smells, the pain, the complete agony of being in battle.
       “War is hell in every respect. End quotes, underline it,” says George Gossett, a World War II veteran. “No matter how you spell it, war is hell. Unfortunately that’s how we live. In every generation there’s been war. That’s part of nature and I hate it.”
       Monday, as he visited the memorial to the sons Bedford lost at Normandy, Nance said he hopes all the attention being given to the movie will bring more people to this spot, to honor the real heroes of D-Day.