spirit can inspire you in ways you never expected.
I was recently humbled and inspired by the real-life heroes of the story 12 Strong, whom I met at the movie premiere party at Jazz at Lincoln Center January 16.
was a horrific day for all Americans and especially for those of us who were
Very few good stories came out of that dark day except for the heroism and bravery of the New York City police, firefighters and other first responders who selflessly spent endless hours searching the rubble.
Finally, all these years later, a story was revealed from unclassified documents about the unheralded brave Green Berets that were sent into Afghanistan on September 12. They joined forces with local militia and conducted a very unconventional war against the Taliban. Despite overwhelming odds of survival against a much larger force, they successfully accomplished their secret missions.
The story is amazing because most of them made it back unharmed, and their narrative can now be told. These courageous men were United States Army Rangers before they became Green Berets. When I told them that my father was also a Ranger, one of the brave souls who landed on Normandy Beach on D-Day in 1944, they treated me like family.
American Freedom Distillery's Rekker Rum and Luekens Liquors' Horse Soldier Barrel Strength Bourbon
Politics aside, they represent what is truly the American spirit. Ironically, that is exactly what they created upon returning. A group of them got together and created American Freedom Distillery, with a focus on bourbon and rum. We featured their products at the premiere party for 12 Strong, the new release that dramatizes their mission in Afghanistan.
The menu was
a well-rounded representation of American Cuisine: Chef Carved New York Strip Steaks, Creamed
Spinach, Smashed Fingerlings, Roasted Chicken, Pan Seared Striped Bass, Grilled
Vegetables and a Classic Wedge Salad.
The movie stars Chris Hemsworth, better known as Thor, and the Green Beret who he plays told me his teenage daughters replaced his picture on their cellphones – so that when he calls, they see Chris, not Dad.
The soldiers were all so unassuming and normal that I felt humbled by their modesty, considering the scale of their accomplishments.
You really never know another stranger’s story, and at any moment you may find yourself surrounded by true heroes. This experience reflects one of my favorite quotes:
“The best way to find yourself is in the service to others.”
Photos ©Jen Wang