|Mr. Altman teaches his class that the men who in the Vietnam war were killers. This doesn't sit well with Kirk, who's father died in the war fighting for his country.
Written By: Chandler
Kirk McGinty's hobby is war. That's why he wrote his school report on the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, Kirk's teacher, Mr. Altman, doesn't agree at all with what Kirk wrote. He gives Kirk a book about why the U.S. shouldn't have been in Vietnam, and adds that the soldiers died for no reason. Kirk reacts to the statement but the reason for the reaction is unclear.
While reading the book in the forest, Kirk is attacked by "guerrillas"--the kids from his scout troop. They are surprised when Kirk not only gets mad at their attack but also announces that he'll have nothing to do with a battle reenactment that they are going to perform on Memorial Day. Puzzled, the kids go the Whit's End and tell Whit and Connie what happened. They also show Whit Mr. Altman's book that Kirk had left behind. Connie suggests that Kirk may just not be that patriotic, but Whit has a bit of news--Kirk's father died in Vietnam. Startled, Connie just replies, "Ohhhh." The Whit's End crowd noises in this scene are particularly good. If you listen to it with headphones, you feel as if you are standing in the middle of the room because you are hearing separate conversations and noises in each ear.
Back at his house, Kirk's mom tries to comfort him after the book he read causes confusion about America's involvement in the Vietnam conflict. Kirk asks his mom to recall the last time she saw his father. Willingly, she begins sharing memories of that last day--April 20, 1975--as Kirk drifts off to sleep. And, when Kirk's mom wishes him "pleasant dreams" a nightmare predictably follows.
Kirk's nightmare jumps around, of course, but in one poignant scene he meets his dad. Kirk is worried that his dad may be guilty of murder like a soldier mentioned in the book. Kirk begs his dad to tell him otherwise. Sadly, since Kirk is unsure and it's his own dream, his dad doesn't answer the question. Kirk wakes up crying for the father he never knew.
Disturbed by Mr. Altman's book, Whit confronts the teacher in a scene that is well acted. We get to hear the reason for Mr. Altman's views on war and the bitterness he still feels over losing his brother in battle. Even Whit is a bit taken aback. A nice gesture on Whit's part, however, to include Eric Altman's name on the War Memorial. It's also good to hear Mr. Altman take Whit's words to heart and apologize to Kirk for coming down so harshly on him. In return, Kirk is just as understanding. They have both learned an important lesson.
I appreciate the message of this episode as both my grandfathers were veterans who lost many friends in war. Ninety-nine percent of the men in my one grandfather's regiment died. Men sacrificed their lives for this country like my great-uncle did at the age of eighteen. It is important that we remember them and what they did for our country and the world.
The War Memorial in this episode plays a prominent role in "East Winds, Raining" and "Angels Unaware."
This is the first AIO episode that had an "adult" theme.
Corrections of the two notes above:
The memorial didn't really play much of a role in "Angels Unaware" as much as it did "Gathering Thunder", when it was actually trashed and cleaned up.
For the second one, it is very arguable as to what is an "adult" episode, but certainly there were "adult" episodes before this one. There was "A Member of the Family", "Recollections", and the Family Portraits episode "In Memory of Herman".
- Waluigi Freak 99
This episode was not put in an albuem untill 2 years later that is highly unusually for it to be that long for a release.