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Enduring Freedom

Dalton Trumbo was a champion of the "little guy." You can hear his advocacy in movies such as SPARTACUS, PAPILLON and THE BRAVE ONE. Of course, Dalton's voice rings clearer in his books.

I just re-read Johnny Got His Gun, a book which maintains its potency and import now, almost 75 years after its initial publication. The story of young WWI vet who loses his arms, legs, nose, mouth, sight and hearing in service of his country remains devastating. It tempts you to believe the author will prove the triumph of the human spirit — and, in pat, it does — yet it then convicts you for the foolishness of such simplistic thought. Here, a more political passage that bears election-year-repeating:

"You can always hear the people who are willing to sacrifice somebody else's life. They're plenty loud and they talk all the time. You can find them in churches and schools and newspapers and legislatures and congress. That's their business. They sound wonderful. Death before dishonor. This ground sanctified by blood. These men who died so gloriously. They shall not have died in vain. Our noble dead.


"But what do the dead say?"

This question appears on page 115 of Trumbo's classic and the author spends the next 100+ pages answering it, trapped inside the stumpy, wordless body of a veteran who survived his service, only technically.

All good stories pose a question for the teller to explore. What's yours?

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