In 2011, a small team from the Code of Support foundation, a small nonprofit organization started by a retired United States general, traveled from the coast of California to Washington, D.C. in 9 days.
The trip was timed to commemorate Sept. 11 on the event's 10th anniversary in 2011. This, however, was not the 3000-mile equivalent of the Memorial Motorcycle ride - a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, in this author's opinion - but quiet, focused and meaningful. The name "Code of Support" comes from a 6-point civilian code of conduct that mirrors the military's. The organization believes that by adopting the code and its values (support of our active troops, veterans, families of soldiers and recognition and appreciation for their sacrifices, to name a few) into our lives, we can bridge the gap that exists between our military and the rest of America.
The team and their supporters set out to raise awareness of our soldiers and the challenges they face and their families - not only while they are abroad but on the homefront too. The team also set out to connect with soldiers and their families, to learn their stories and to elevate the notion of "Supporting Our Troops" to being more than an afterthought on a bumper-sticker. Part of raising awareness meant putting that experience, with all its stories, in a public forum where it could be shared and experienced by those of us who don't have a family member in the armed forces - those of us who feel a disconnect between our "day-to-day" and the images we see on the national news.
“Profiles in Service: It Takes a Nation” will play at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St.
Among the team on the transcontinental trip, was local writer and filmmaker Alivia Tagliaferri. She travelled with the team and documented the experience, also interviewing and filming some of the families and soldiers that have been affected most profoundly. Two things become very apparent when talking with Tagliaferri: how passionate she is about her work and the welfare of armed service members and their families, and that what she does is not some cheap, exploitative move made for personal gain.
"I want people to be so emotionally moved by this film that they physically act," she said.
"Action" does not simply imply getting out your wallet or writing a check, but "getting involved at a personal level," said Tagliaferri. She explained that one of the biggest challenges facing spouses of deployed soldiers is being faced with the same duties as a temporarily-single parent that they're used to tackling with a partner. Watching a neighbor's kids while he or she runs an errand or offering to take those kids to a sports practice a few nights a week can make all the difference in the world.
One of the biggest challenges that Tagliaferri faced in creating the documentary was asking family members of service members to essentially relive some of their most difficult experiences.
"We had to let them know that we were doing this to help others," she said. "We wanted to honor their stories, but also to help others who might be in this position - to let them know that they are not alone ...Their pain can be transformed into a healing experience."
"Profiles in Service: It Takes a Nation" documents Tagliaferri's experiences with Code of Support and the stories of the real American servicemen and servicewomen and their families that they encountered over the course of their nine-day journey. The film was directed by Tagliaferri and narrated by Associated Press Correspondent and Peabody Award-winning journalist Kimberly Dozier.
In honor of Veteran's Day, the documentary short (28 minutes) will be shown at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St., and will be followed by an hour-long discussion panel with time allotted for a question-and-answer session with the audience. The screening and discussion are both free and open to the public. Some of the topics of discussion will be the needs of the American military community and their families, the disconnect between civilian and military America and ways we can all get involved.
Tagliaferri is an author, producer, director and the CEO of Ironcutter Media. To learn more about her, her work, and the work she promotes at Ironcutter Media, visit www.ironcuttermedia.com.
To learn more about the Community Arts Center's screening of "Profiles in Service: It Takes a Nation," visit www.caclive.com or call 326-2424.
To learn more about Code of Support, visit www.codeofsupport.org.