In the weeks leading up to Memorial Day, WTIU honors men and women in the armed forces both past and present. Primetime programs include documentaries about the battle of D-Day, the World War II Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, and the struggles of present-day returning veterans.
Wednesday, May 7 at 1:00pm
In Coming Home, Army veteran Derek Pelletier and National Guard veterans John DiRaimo, Brian Santos, and Sean Judge share their combat experiences, and their lives back in the civilian world. Massachusetts resident Pelletier, twice honored with the Bronze Star, continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, as do Rhode Islanders DiRaimo and Judge. Santos, who served with Judge, has followed a different path, becoming a New Jersey state trooper and marrying. Their interwoven stories illustrate the human toll of a war fought by a tiny fraction of Americans serving in an all-volunteer military.
Coming Back with Wes Moore
Tuesday, May 13, 20, and 27 at 8:00pm
This three-part series, produced by bestselling author and U.S. Army veteran Wes Moore, tells the story of his search for answers to some of the most difficult questions facing vets returning from war. Moore’s journey, spurred by the suicide of one of his oldest friends and a fellow officer, takes him into the personal lives of different soldiers as they attempt to reintegrate into society, establish new identities and—for many—find a new mission.
D-Day: The Price of Freedom
Sunday, May 25 at 2:00pm
D-Day: The Price of Freedom pays tribute to the courageous men who began the liberation of France more than 60 years ago. Throughout this moving documentary, former paratroopers, gunners, landing craft operators and others representing the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy share their harrowing tales of survival. Five veterans, some returning to Normandy for the first time since 1944, make an emotional journey to the Normandy American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, the final resting place of 9,000 of their fallen comrades. There, each speaks candidly about the unimaginable horror, despair and fear of the day. The film also explores why these aging men remain heroes to the French people. During their visit, young and old alike honor their liberators with toasts, ceremonies, and other tokens of gratitude.
Sunday, May 25 at 4:00pm and 9:30pm
Anthem tells the story behind Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the song he penned after the relentless bombardment by the British of Fort McHenry during The War of 1812. Historians and music experts discuss the Colonial-era songs and events that influenced Key to write what would become the U.S. national anthem. Anthem also reveals interesting facts about Key’s upbringing and religious leanings while tracing the origins of the song. Performances by the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club and St. John’s College Chorus give voice to this stirring and elegant song, and include a rendering of its first draft.
My Vietnam, Your Iraq
Thursday, May 22 at 10:00pm
The Vietnam War polarized the United States in the 1960s; decades later, U.S. involvement in Iraq initiated its own discord. My Vietnam Your Iraq connects these two wars by focusing on the stories of eight Vietnam veterans whose own children have served in Iraq. The stories examine the pride, fear, and the challenges that parents and their children face during deployment, each with their own perspective and expectation. Though the stories are unique to the individual families, these intimate profiles resonate with all of us: the stories of the men and women who fought and fight for themselves, their families, and their country. The film was produced and directed by Indiana University’s Ron Osgood, who teaches documentary production courses at IU-Bloomington and is a Vietnam War veteran.
We Served Too: The Story of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots
Sunday, May 25 at 1:00pm
These are the stories of a group of determined young women during World War II who broke through barriers and shattered stereotypes. The Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) were the first women pilots to fly for the United States military. But after an aggressive campaign by male pilots who wanted the WASP jobs during World War II, they were the only wartime unit that was denied military status by Congress and were sent home before the war was over and their job was done. Because the women were denied military status, the WASPs received no insurance or benefits during or after the war, and if a WASP died during training or while on a mission, her families were not allowed to put a service star in the window, nor could the WASP receive a military burial. It wasn’t until the 1970s that they became recognized as World War II veterans, and it wasn’t until 2010 that the United States government recognized those women who died during their service, and the surviving WASPs receive the congressional gold medal. We Served Too provides first-hand accounts from WASPs who tell their stories, WASP experts, and family members who share their knowledge.
The Gettysburg Story
Sunday, May 25 at 3:00pm
Over three days in 1863, war-weary Union and Confederate soldiers clashed at a backwater Pennsylvania crossroads to decide the fate of the nation. Produced to commemorate its sesquicentennial, The Gettysburg Story tells the epic tale of the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil and the greatest man-made disaster in American history. Narrated by actor Stephen Lang (Avatar), the documentary recounts the pivotal events and intimate stories from the iconic Civil War battle immortalized in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Cutting-edge cinematography techniques reveal the grand scale of the 6,000-acre battlefield, including the legendary sites of Little Round Top, Devils Den, The Railroad Cut, Cemetery Ridge, and the fields of Pickett’s Charge.
National Memorial Day Concert
Sunday, May 25 at 8:00pm
Monday, May 26 at 1:00pm
Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise co-host the 25th anniversary broadcast of this night of remembrance honoring the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, their families at home, and all those who have given their lives for our country. They are joined by an all-star line-up in performance with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly. Featuring a blend of uplifting musical performances and dramatic readings, the program airs from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol before a concert audience of hundreds of thousands, millions more at home, as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network. Mantegna and Sinise, two acclaimed actors who have dedicated themselves to veterans’ causes and supporting the troops in active service, are co-hosting for the ninth consecutive year.
Wings for Maggie Ray
Sunday, May 25 at 10:30pm
Thursday, May 29, at 1:00pm
This film pays tribute to the remarkable life and legacy of Indiana native Margaret “Maggie” Ringenberg (1921-2008), a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Force Women’s Air Service and renowned long-distance aviation racer. Re-enactments, archival photos and film, and insightful interviews from those closest to her shed light on Ringenberg’s fearlessness, confidence, and determination. The program covers her numerous aviation adventures during and after World War II, including ferrying personnel and supplies, test flying new planes, and serving as the lead pilot in around the world and London-to-Sydney races.
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Death and the Civil War
Monday, May 26 at 9:00pm
Sunday, June 1 at 1:00pm
From filmmaker Ric Burns, Death and the Civil War explores an essential but largely overlooked aspect of the most pivotal event in American history. With the coming of the Civil War and the staggering casualties it ushered in, death entered the experience of the American people as it never had before—permanently altering the character of the republic, and the psyche of the American people. The work of contending with death on an unprecedented scale propelled extraordinary changes in the inner and outer life of Americans—posing challenges for which there were no ready answers when the war began—challenges that called forth remarkable and heroic efforts as Americans worked to improvise new solutions, new institutions, and new ways of coping with death on an unimaginable scale. Based on Drew Gilpin Faust’s book, This Republic of Suffering the film tracks the lethal arc of the war, from an all but bloodless opening, through the chaos of Shiloh, Antietam, and Gettysburg, down through the war’s aftermath when the American landscape was littered with the bodies of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, many unburied, most unidentified.
Tuesday, May 27 at 9:00pm
Sunday, June 1 at 3:00pm
D-Day was a logistical effort on a scale never seen before or since—the largest amphibious invasion in world history. On June 6, 1944, 14,000 planes dropped 23,000 airborne troops behind German lines, and 5,000 ships delivered 30,000 military vehicles and 160,000 soldiers onto the beaches. Once on the shore, the troops had to negotiate six million mines buried in the sand, 500,000 fearsome beach obstacles and hundreds of miles of barbed wire, while dodging the shells and bullets fired by half-a-million German defenders. This film uses LiDAR technology to re-create the landscape and allow viewers to switch effortlessly between the macro and the micro—pulling back for the big picture and zooming in to a close-up of a single soldier on the battlefield.
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