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Mel Gibson’s Epic “Hacksaw Ridge” Review

Kelsey Freeman

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Hacksaw Ridge is the kind of war movie that captures our attention with its message of anti-violence in the midst of violent battle. For all its gore and brutality, this true story about a WWII medal-of-honor-winner that never once fired a shot ranks among the finest films that Mel Gibson has ever directed. Desmond Doss (played flawlessly by Andrew Garfield) plays a conscientious objector and Seventh Day Adventist who refuses to carry a gun. He enlists and is sent to serve as a medic on the island of Okinawa.

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The time is 1945, and the island has been the scene of some of the bloodiest battles ever fought during the war. One after one, soldiers fall wounded on Hacksaw Ridge, their nickname for a steep cliff and little piece of Hell officially known as the Maeda Escarpment. For hours after Doss’s battalion got the order to retreat, he ran repeatedly (some say as much as 100 times) into heavy artillery and machine gun fire, to rescue wounded soldiers clinging to the cliff edge, and singlehandedly managed to lower them down the cliffside to safety.

Director Mel Gibson has redeemed himself to many with this film, his first since Apocalypto in 2006, when he found himself embroiled in a scandal of his own making – a profanity-filled racist diatribe against a former girlfriend that was taped and leaked to the world. Gibson has struggled with the fallout from this event for over a decade, but has soldiered on and produced an epic masterpiece with this film.

Gibson’s forte has always been portraying violent combat, and he outdoes himself in Hacksaw Ridge. There is plenty of violence and breathtaking excitement in this film, made much more compelling because the hero is a conscientious objector and a pacifist. Andrew Garfield doesn’t stand alone in the spotlight, however. Doss’s drill sergeant, Sergeant Howell, is masterfully played by Vince Vaughn. That’s right – the actor known for comedic parts in Dodgeball and Wedding Crashers. Vaughn’s performance here combines a razor-sharp wit with a side of tough guy, and he carries it off magnificently.

Australian Sam Worthington (Avatar) turns in a convincing role as Captain Glover, a no-nonsense man who does everything in his power to get rid of Doss, and of course fails, faced with Doss’s acts of extreme bravery. Hugo Weaving, perhaps best known for his roles in Lord of the Rings and the Matrix, hands in a creditable role as Tom Doss, Desmond’s father. Welcome also to Milo Gibson, Mel’s son, who has a small but interesting role as Lucky Ford. We must include Teresa Palmer (Dorothy Schutte), who excels as one of very few women among Hacksaw Ridge’s primarily male cast.

Hacksaw Ridge received 6 nominations at the 2017 Oscars. It won two Oscars, one for Film Editing (John Gilbert) and another for Best Sound Mixing (Kevin O’Connell, Robert Mackenzie, Peter Grace, and Andy Wright). If you like true war stories that don’t mince on graphic, gritty realism, don’t miss Hacksaw Ridge.

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The Origins of Memorial Day in America: Rooted in a History of Former Slaves and Bravery

Cynthia Brooke

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Memorial Day is widely celebrated in the United States, as a way to remember the heroism and sacrifice of those fallen American soldiers. The day has become a time of celebration and community gatherings. With parades, food, and fireworks., it’s just like July 4th. But, while we all know the origins of other American holidays (including the 4th of July), Memorial Day is still shrouded in lost and misunderstood history. The full story is not known, and it’s quite a tale! 

Who Invented Memorial Day? 

The first acknowledged Memorial Day is linked with the tragic loss of life in Charleston, South Carolina that took place toward the end of the Civil War. Hundreds of Union soldiers were left for dead at the Washington Race Course, a makeshift prisoner-of-war camp by the Confederate side. With Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s abrupt surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865. The war had taken a brutal toll on both sides, but the end of the war inspired a mass exodus of Charleston by soldiers and citizens alike. Former slaves stayed behind. Inspired by patriotic fervor, they called themselves the “Patriotic Association of Colored Men.” They took it upon themselves to bring honor and dignity to the fallen soldiers left in the race-course prison in unmarked graves when the Confederate soldiers fled. 

They excavated the unmarked mass graves and then dug 257 individual graves, surrounded by a fence to ensure a place of honor and security. Once their final memorial was complete, the community turned out for “Decoration Day,” which is now recognized by many as the first Memorial Day, in 1865.  The event included the march on the race track, singing by 2,800 black school children, preaching by black ministers, and the wide-spread decoration of the graves.  It was a way to honor the soldiers, who’d been viewed as martyrs by the Patriotic Association of Colored Men. 

The Rest is History 

Tragic loss and sacrifice are at the center of virtually every version of the first Memorial Day celebrations, but the scale is important. The Decoration Day tradition was later launched in Waterloo, New York (and yes, they claim to have invented the first Memorial Day). Memorial celebrations for Confederate soldiers took place in April 1866, and then Union Major General John A. Logan declared May 5, 1868, to be Decoration Day. There are a number of conflicting reports and claims for the events and meaning of the commemorations that took place following the cessation of hostilities at the end of the Civil War. But that last event took place at  Arlington National Cemetery. The formalization of the event at Arlington, with the mass decoration of graves with flowers and flags, is part of why the 1868 event is widely considered to be the first national Memorial Day event in US History. 

Memorial Day was then set as a May 30th national holiday, and it has continued to evolve. The true history of the day is complicated by historical bias and the fickle memories of the participants, but the role of these men and women who had once been slaves is important. After all, the Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863, was just a few years old when the war ended. Former slaves signed up to become Union soldiers en masse. An estimated 25,000 soldiers fought for the Union Army, but approximately 10% of their ranks were former slaves. They fought bravely and with distinction. In fact, 16 black soldiers were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their heroism in battle. It’s about time that we recognized the hidden stories that have for so long gone untold. 

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You Will Not Believe These Classic Era Celebrities Who are Still Rocking Their Golden Years

Anjali DeSimone

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Past and Present

Have you ever watched a classic movie from Hollywood’s Golden Era and wondered where are they now, or just assumed that they were not here? Read on to see some of the biggest stars from days gone by who are ruing their own world in the new millennium.

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Brave Babysitter Steps Up, Saves Child From Dangerous Burglar

Brooke Hurbert

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Making the decision to hand your child over to a babysitter can be a hard one. Every parent has that nagging thought that runs through their head, “What if something goes wrong?”. Jonathan Lai and his wife called on Jenna Lee Baker in order to watch their three-year-old son for an afternoon. What seemed like a regular afternoon soon turned into a nightmare situation. Keep on reading to find out how Jenny turned into a modern-day superhero!

Welcome to Irvine

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Jonathan Lai and his family are based out of Irvine, CA. As a tightly-knit family, Irvine has plenty to offer. The metropolitan area is located in Orange County, CA. The area is known for being home to some truly amazing local attractions. In fact, Irvine is considered one of the best cities to live in the entire United States, at least according to Business Insider and WalletHub! Still, that doesn’t mean that tragedy cannot strike!

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