Memorial Day,” a sentimental and timely look at two generations of soldiers, premiered at McCain Auditorium Wednesday evening following a red-carpet ceremony in front of K-State’s World War Two Memorial.
The event was organized by the Kansas State University Office of Military Affairs and Perspective Films and screened for an audience composed largely of military members and their families and active community members.
Arthur DeGroat, director of the Office of Military Affairs, said 960 guests were invited to the premiere. Distinguished guests included State Sen. Roger Reitz, Shand Mayville, Gen. William Mayville’s wife, and Col. William Clark and his wife, Andrea.
Also present was John Lindholm, a 1949 graduate of K-State and WWII veteran, whose army tags were used as a model for K-State’s memorial.
Director Sam Fischer, producer Craig Christiansen and actor John Cromwell represented the movie at the premiere.
All three are based in Minnesota, where the movie was filmed.
Fischer said the movie took 29 days to shoot and approximately a year-and-a-half to edit. Because all scenes were shot in Minnesota, Fischer said rock quarries were disguised to look like Middle East deserts, while winter landscapes were used for the WWII scenes.
Christiansen joked that unfortunately for the crew, filming required exposure to weather as extreme as single-digit lows and highs around 100.
But, he said, “We’re working hard to honor these soldiers.” He said he hopes the movie gives people a different outlook on Memorial Day.
The movie chronicles the relationship between Bud Vogel, a World War II veteran and Kyle Vogel, his grandson, a soldier who fights in the Iraq War.
Fischer said it’s ultimately a story of handing down your history to younger generations.
The movie is based around Kyle finding his grandfather’s WWII footlocker in an old shed when he is 13 years old. Though reticent to speak about his past, Bud agrees to tell Kyle the stories behind three items in the chest.
His grandfather’s chest inspires Kyle to collect mementos of his own experiences at war, including saving a plastic water bottle that he drank from following an attack by a suicide bomber.
Fischer said the basis of the movie was conceived by friend Jeff Traxler, a WWII memorabilia collector, who thought of all the untold stories contained within a footlocker that came into his possession.
Cromwell said he jumped at the chance to play a WWII soldier and said that it’s critical for movies to talk about experiences Americans undergo.
The movie also stars James Cromwell, whose past works include Babe, the Artist and Green Mile, and Jonathan Bennett, a supporting actor in Mean Girls. Memorial Day is will be available on DVD on May 29.