After returning from visiting his dad, Ricky confesses a troubling story about the War to his Grandfather.
When a Nation commits itself to War much is asked of its young men and women in uniform. Along with a willingness to give the ultimate sacrifice, they are also asked to accept a reality like no other often times with no clear lines of demarcation between “winning the hearts” and staying alive. Few are prepared for the “fog of war.”
This week series producer Josh Feinman asked writer-director, and Army veteran, Allen L. Sowelle about his haunting script, “Don’t Mean Nothing.”
JF: First off, some people may be surprised to learn that you’re a Veteran.
AS: Yeah man, over six years active duty. Stateside and abroad. One thing to be clear though, I never had to face some of the challenges this generation has had to face. My work was in a different theater, with different rules.
JF: This is the third FSC episode on Veterans coming home, not ready for the deafening din of civilian life. You seem to have an affinity for Veterans issues. Is this by default or by design?
AS: Definitely by design. I know we try as a Country to honor their sacrifice, but too, too often we come up short. No Servicemember should have to worry about keeping their property, finding employment, or how to navigate a host of health issues that may have followed them home. Whether the scars are physical or psychological, we owe them as many healing hands and healing hearts as possible.
JF: With Ricky and his grandfather Lucas, who are these characters to you?
AS: Ricky is that kid that no one explained the moral and emotional extremes of armed conflict to. He wasn’t in the infantry or an elite unit, he’s just a kid trying to support our efforts when suddenly the unexpected comes point-blank. His grandfather Lucas is molded from the cast of my uncles and men like them who returned from Vietnam with the attitude of the only way you survive is by turning it off – the haunts, the sounds, the smells, you turn it off. “Don’t Mean Nothing,” came from a book I read about some Marines at Khe Sanh. If there was ever a moment that encapsulated what our Vietnam Vets went through it is the Battle of Khe Sanh.
JF: What do you hope viewers get from this story?
AS: Before people who’ve never served start another drumbeat to War somewhere, they should either spend some time at a VA hospital, or with the families of those who never made it back whole. Listen to their stories, feel their absence. And if that’s okay with you that’s one thing. But, if it’s not, then you better be damn sure about the objective, and about your commitment to our brave sons and daughters upon their return. Freedom isn’t Free, and all of us should be proud to pay for it one way or another.
JF: As the series creator, what do you see next for Front Seat Chronicles?
AS: Some sponsorship would be cool. Half joking, but I’m serious about opening the aperture, shining more light on the diversity of faces, places, and voices that make up the American Experience. In order to keep going it’s gonna take financial resources we now don’t have. So we’ll see. Some sort of sponsoring an episode up to sponsoring an entire season would be significant.
But so far, especially with your help Josh, we’ve gotten a nice tapestry of narratives, and FSC is definitely a writer’s and actor’s medium. I’d love to see more people involved, sharing biographies.
Got a story to tell? Hit us up in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you.
Inform and Inspire. Peace.