By Shawna Leader/The AS Review
“The Corporal’s Diary,” a film which tells the story of two American soldiers, will be shown at 7 p.m. on Nov. 12 in Viking Union 552. The AS Resource and Outreach Programs (ROP) Social Issues Resource Center (SIRC) and the AS ROP Veteran’s Outreach Center (VOC) will be co-sponsoring the event.
Jonathan Santos graduated from Sehome Hill High School, joined the military and was deployed to Iraq. He was in Iraq for a little over a month when he was killed in October 2004 at the age of 22 by an Improvised Exploding Device (IED). Everyone in his vehicle was killed except for a soldier named Matthew Drake. The movie documents Drake’s return to the U.S. as well as Santos’ personal story.
What makes the film especially powerful is that the story is told through Santos’ video recordings and readings from his diary, said SIRC Coordinator Anna Boenish. The film contains clips from the U.S. and Iraq, she said.
“It really tells a personalized story and you get to hear about the experiences that Jonathan had and what Matthew is going through,” Boenish said.
Doris Kent, Santos’ mother, will be introducing the movie and holding a question and answer session after the showing to answer inquiries about the film, how it came to be and how Santos’ family is doing, she said.
The film helps people understand the human cost of war, she said.
“There aren’t many documentaries around right now about the Iraq war,” Kent said. “I think people are ready for that now.”
Because the story involves someone who lived in Bellingham, it is relatable to students, VOC Coordinator Paul Wright said. It also provides an opportunity for students to see what members of the military undergo for our country, Wright said.
“It’s an opportunity to learn about people in the military and the sacrifices they make so we can go to school and do the things we like,” he said.
Kent has spoken at showings of the film before (it first came out in Bellingham) and every time is an emotionally tiring experience, she said. But she also sees the importance of sharing Santos’ story.
“To be able to give Americans the ability to ask questions and see the story live is what I think I’m supposed to be doing,” Kent said.
The film does not just honor the fallen but also examines how to support veterans, Kent said. At one point in the film she meets Drake and his mother. Drake suffered from a head injury that has deprived him of his short term memory, according to Stars and Stripes reporter David Allen.
“The Corporal’s Diary” has been embraced by advocates for peace as well as the military, Boenish said. The film was awarded “Most Powerful Documentary” at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2008.
“I think it’s really a gift when families who are tied to something like the war in Iraq are willing to share their stories,” Boenish said.