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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Red Tails

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

During World War II an Army Air Corps unit of African American was established in Alabama that came to be known as the Tuskegee Airman. Although the men were highly skilled, segregation in the Army and distrust of the pilots’ skills based on racial bias, limited the scope of their operations. They were also given old planes to fly and assigned to bomb sites that had already been destroyed.
 
In Italy in 1944 the men chaff against orders that make no sense. One of the men falls in love with a local girl while the others have to spend their free time at an Italian dance hall because white soldiers won’t allow them in their club. Fights break out.
 
Col. Bullard (Terrence Howard) lobbies the pentagon for new planes and real assignments that can save American lives and help the war effort. In Italy Major Stance (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) oversees missions, tries to keep the men from trouble, and trains them hard, believing in their intelligence, skills, and patriotism.
 
When the Pentagon finally agrees to take the Tuskegee Airmen seriously, Bullard demands new planes and gets them. The ground crew paints the tails red so the Germans will know whose coming.
 
“Red Tails” is based on true facts but the script is tedious and the action slow throughout most of the film. Director Anthony Hemmingway has made a fine reputation for himself for television, but here the pace is so slow that I think such an important movie may not receive the audience it so deserves.  The writing obviously struggled to create tension and friendship among the men, but it was so obvious it was a cliché.  The actors have so much potential but their performances are stilted.
 
The final half hour of the film is where things come together. The audience I saw it with got into it completely and cheered and clapped, and I shed a tear or two,  at the victories of the awesome Tuskegee Airmen. This is a worthy story even if the film isn’t flying off the screen, so to speak.


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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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