Not only is “Lone Survivor” a No. 1 National Bestseller, but the movie is showing to packed theaters all across the country. This book, written by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson, and the movie have also become controversial since some critics have called it “military propaganda.”
How is a book that encourages patriotism, duty, honor and commitment being used as a propaganda tool? In comparison, many books must be instruments of immorality, greed and selfishness propaganda. I prefer Luttrell’s eyewitness account of Operation Redwing, where he and his brothers in arms fought for their lives in mountainous Afghanistan in a heartbreakingly courageous battle against much greater odds.
Luttrell grew up in East Texas, which makes him our geographical cousin. The first chapters reveal the interesting background of Marcus and his twin brother, who literally began training to become future U.S. Navy SEALS when they were boys. Readers get a clear account of how that training paid off while enduring and overcoming the rigorous tribulations of BUDS, where the hardest task masters in the military weed out any sign of weakness until only the very best warriors carry the title of U.S. Navy SEALS.
Luttrell helps the reader understand the rabid hatred for Americans among the Taliban, and what a burden it is for U.S. battlefield warriors to be under rigid Rules of Engagement set forth by politicians who have never been in war. The unfairness of such rules in a situation where fanatics pretend to be innocent civilians while carrying explosives to blow up our nation’s men and women literally made me sick. Sick for our brave soldiers who fear being tried by U.S. military courts more than they do the lethal, sneaky enemy who loves to kill and torture Americans.
Reading about what our dedicated, brave warriors go through for the little pay and long separations from their loved ones should make every reader rethink the values of a country that idolizes entertainers and sports figures and the outrageous salaries they make compared to the real heroes we should be looking to as examples. This book ought to wake Americans up about what our priorities should be – that is to support our troops and make sure they have everything they need to fight this war and win it. Instead, we find out in this case that helicopter gunships were not available when they should have been, and lives were lost.
I will not go any deeper into the book. The story is Luttrell’s to tell, and he does it outstandingly. I heard one television critic ask, “Why put yourself through the emotional trauma of watching ‘Lone Survivor’?” My answer: because if these courageous men can go where they go, do what they do in the hellish places they are sent, under the restrictive regulations they die under, the least that we can do is sit safely in our comfy chairs or in a movie theater and watch or read their story, increasing our appreciation and understanding of their sacrifices – which may even cause some of us to make enough noise that these returning heroes would receive the honor, medical and financial help that they so richly deserve.
By Elaine Marze