"Glory" is one movie which certainly lives up to its name. Set during the American Civil War, this film tells the true story of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, played by Matthew Broderick, and his 54th Regiment of Volunteer Infantry: the first black regiment to be used in this war. Originally from Massachusetts, this group of black men, many former slaves, are faced with not only the grim realities of war, but the grim realities of prejudice, as well. Their white commander again and again confronts painstakingly difficult dilemmas. He must decide if his men are to be treated like men, and if he will stand up for his soldiers, or stand against them. His decisions are not always morally consistent, yet they well portray the indecision that any man would encounter in trying to answer the question which split a nation and drove it to self-destruction, less than one hundred and thirty years ago.
Because this movie attempts to recount an actual event in our history, and perhaps, sadly enough, in an effort to draw the average American viewer, the scenes are filled with heart-wrenching battle and bloody gore. However, there is much accurateness in this portrayal, for this was the war in which there were more American casualties than in all of the other wars we have fought combined, including Vietnam. The fighting was done up close because of the limitations of the guns available at this time. One could not help but come face-to-face with the enemy, for if one could not see the whites of his eyes, one was too far away to do any harm.
The prejudice against the 54th Regiment was so strong, that they were not even allowed the honor to fight; they were instead used as slave-like labor for the Union side. In the end, however, they fought, brave and strong. Yet, as in all civil wars, there was no happy ending. The fort which many died for, Fort Wagner, was never even captured by the Union side. But they did prove that black men can fight as bravely as white men and can die as bravely as white men. The 54th Regiment opened the ranks of our country's army to all blacks, and captured, if not then, now their moment of Glory.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.