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When I went to test this preview for premier at the Saturday night banquet of the 64th First Special Service Force (FSSF) Association Reunion, the projector and my computer had a major disagreement about video output. The sound was good, but the picture was either too blue or green, and no amount of technological corrective worked – this in a film symbolized by the red wild poppies of World War I and II. The preview was cut from footage I shot in Italy this past May and June, following six FSSF vets and their families back to the World War II battlegrounds. This was also the first edited work to be shown to the people who had been in Italy with me – the veterans, their families, and families of other vets – as well as to the rest of the FSSF families and current-day special forces soldiers and families gathered for the reunion in Helena, Montana.
And here it was, the afternoon of the banquet premier, and we couldn’t get the picture to go.
“We” were John Hart, Gianni Blaisi, and myself. John is from Medicine Hat, Alberta, and coordinated the North American component the 2010 May-June tour. His father, Sgt. Geoffrey Hart (1-2), was in The Force. Gianni was the local, Liri Valley coordinator in Italy for the tour, is a professor of literature and historian of The Force, and was in Helena to attend the reunion. Given our incredibly bonding time in Italy two months before, it was so wonderful to be in the same room with them again – even if we were vexed over the video projection. I offered that “at least” we could get the sound right, so the poor picture would just have to do. We weren’t happy with the conclusion but knew we could live with it. Beyond the color issues, I was already excited and nervous about showing this preview to the ones who matter the most in this whole film project – the disappearing veterans of World War II, and especially those of the First Special Service Force.
You’ll find out why when you watch this preview .
So come the banquet, I hooked up my computer to the projector and sound, and checked once to see if the picture came up – it did. I then went away to film, eat dinner and socialize until it was time to begin the presentation about the Italy tour with the preview. When the time arrived, John took the podium and we opened with a short video duet I had cut from a dedication ceremony on Hill 720: bagpipes from the the Liri Valley where the FSSF had fought; and a FSSF vet, Jack Furman, reading a poem, “My Buddy,” with Gianni translating. Then John delivered an awesome, heart-felt speech, which can be read here: John’s Helena speech.
After that, it was showtime. I opened the film preview and began playing it. When Ann Picken showed up in her bright red jacket clear-as-day after the “Flanders Fields” opening poem, I almost cried out in joy. I looked over at John and to Gianni to gage their reaction. Everyone looked riveted. The picture color was perfect, the sound just right – and the initial response encouraging and humbling from everyone at the banquet. (I was even awarded a Special Forces challenge coin, beware!)
For those associated with the First Special Service Force, we have a saying when things like this happen: The Power of ‘The Force’. Just when it seems like things might not work out… And then they do so in wonderfully unexpected ways: that’s “the power of The Force.” This saying expresses a belief, a longing we FSSF descendants hold: that “the Force” is still with us, looking out for us as our fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, and once-sons and soldiers…
My grandfather was 1st Lieutenant Charles R. Scoggin (5-3), killed in action at Mussolini Canal, February 2nd, 1944. He died along with two other lieutenants through the finality of a booby-trapped trench. His son (my dad) and I went to where it happened just inland from Anzio beachhead this past 2010 trip. I commemorated it with a few poignant scans and shots, some of which show up in this preview, and more of which will definitely show up in the film. My grandfather is my Guardian Angel, and part of the Power of The Force that makes this film possible.
Thank you very much for watching this preview . Feedback is appreciated. Forwarding is too.
P.S. If you want to receive news of when the DVD is released in August 2010, please email me at rimotamar(at)me.com.