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13_Hours_posterA lot of anticipation preceded this film. Its public announcement both in the news and through trailers stirred a massive amount of interest. But, I wondered, “Would the film live up to anyone’s expectations?”

It is a very good movie well worth seeing. But, prepare yourself.  This true story will affect you deeply.

On the 11th Anniversary of the unprovoked attack on the United States’ World Trade Center and Pentagon, hostile forces attacked the US diplomatic center and CIA “Annex” compound. A small band of 6 CIA contractors made up of former Navy SeALS, Marines and Army Rangers take the initiative and do all they can to defend the Americans who are in the crosshairs of the terrorists. These 6 faced overwhelming odds yet managed to fend off the waves of attacks.

A historical fact that left me mystified at the outset of the story is that the USA has over 200 diplomatic outposts of one nature or another around the world. Of those there are around a dozen that are classified as severely hostile and dangerous. The two most dangerous are both in Libya: Tripoli and Benghazi.

Every other country had pulled its diplomatic teams out of Benghazi.  The USA was the only country with a remaining contingency.  It was a city torn by military factions and violent extremists yet its two sites were woefully under-protected.

When the US Ambassador to Libya came to town, he had a protective team of a mere two US combatants.  The compound was primarily protected by local police and native personnel who ran away as soon as the attacks began.  No one trusted these local hirelings so there was no surprise when they betrayed their clients and ran for their lives.

As the story developed, the dangers of a planned attack showed heroism in action.  No help was forthcoming but the few did not hesitate to put their lives in harms way to protect those who were in danger.  Even in the face of administrative fear and hesitation, the 6 fought off wave after wave of terrorist combatants.

Respect for the courage of the few Americans skyrocketed.  Sadness sank into fearful desperation when the US government failed to send in the resources necessary to render necessary aid to the brave 6.  Those two words make up my summary of how this story affected me: respect and sadness.

photo credit: film promotion release poster



IMG_1609Can America keep on course with vital issues even during the political turbulence of the day?  When those in position of leadership flip-flop, grab for headlines and spin every decision to shift the blame to others while taking credit for projects started by their own adversaries?  How great is the USA really?

When I left the theater after viewing the world’s most intense manhunt, I believed that America is great because of the Americans who make up this amazing country.  It is the individual who is sold out to the cause for which they have been chosen.  The average citizen who dives into duty, performance and obligation makes this nation superb.

Maya is a CIA officer is given the task to focus solely on tracking down Osama bin Laden following the 9.11 attack on the USA.  She is initiated into the world of interrogation where waterboarding and humiliation are tactics used to break prisoners suspected of harboring vital intelligence.  Slowly but surely she and her colleagues are able to piece information together after years of sorting out facts from lies, clues from distractions and follow a trail.

Tragedy looms large as colleagues are murdered by terrorists.  Political procrastination gums up the efforts to move quickly, costing more lives of loyal Americans in harm’s way.  Maya escapes a bomb blast and a machine gun attack.

Unfortunately, not all of her colleagues were so fortunate.  Close coworkers died at the hands of the terrorists violence.  This emboldened Maya to increase her ferocity to find her target.

Political changes in America were merely shifts in the world above the intelligence community.  They carried on their tasks with determination.  Only political appointments of egotists more interested in personal glory than facilitating the good work started previously to their term threw a glitch into the system.  Veterans tolerated the tirades of these politicians, then went about continuing their work.

Maya not persevered in her quest to hunt down the world’s most heinous terrorist, she doggedly reminded her superiors when the foot-dragging by headliners in Washington.  With brash and brazen forthrightness, she pressed her supervisors to act on her intelligence of where Osama bin Laden was staying.

A large compound in Pakistan was targeted.  The President wanted more confirmation, refusing to act until the evidence was certain.  His slow response lasted months.  Finally, approval was given and Maya witnessed the SEALs launch, execute and bring back the remains of bin Laden.  Maya is the heroine.  The SEALs were the heroes.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

IMG_1476I really don’t need another mug.  In fact in our last several moves, I recall sorting out mugs from our kitchen cabinet and filling up a box of unwanted clay-fired drinking implements and donating them to the Salvation Army.  It helped the SA raise money and it reduced the clutter in our kitchen.

But, then, during our visit to the Johnson Space Center, home of NASA, I was following my bride into the gift shop.  She was perusing just about every children’s book that they had on display; once a teacher always a teacher.  That’s when my eyes landed on a mug.

The quotation on the mug was stirring: “Failure is not an option.”  One of the pioneer engineers is credited with this historic statement.  NASA was facing a critical moment in their space program and this declaration pushed the team to that added elevation of human ability and success was achieved.

There is so much about the history of these brilliant scientists and courageous adventurers that stirs the imagination.  It is partly patriotism but mostly the common fiber of humanity that we all share in while we live on this planet.  God simply reveals in the Bible that He created man in His own image.  That says it all.

IMG_1433When I strolled the length of the Saturn V rocket, I marvelled as did all of the guests from around the world who gathered to experience NASA.  How amazing are the feats of man, not as individuals, but as a team of people with a singular mission in mind.  Can you imagine if we saw an end to poverty, abuse, greed, selfishness and pride?  How much could mankind achieve?  It is mind-blowing!

In many ways it is what God also revealed in His Word.  He sent Jesus, His one and only unique Son, to die for our sins and be resurrected from the dead so that we could have eternal life.  If we could live apart from sin, how amazing life would be.

IMG_1418The space shuttle is a monument to human ingenuity.  This massive aircraft designed to be reusable in the space endeavor was a resounding success.  It stirs the spirit of Americans as well as reminds us of the tragedy when precious lives were lost in the exploration of space.

Retirement came to this aging spacecraft.  Now, it is a memory in our minds of man’s giant leaps into space.  We average humans come to admire it with our own eyes.  Well done, NASA, we are very proud of you!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography