Jessica LeePOV’s outreach and development coordinator Jessica Lee recently attended a screening of POV’s The Way We Get By on Capitol Hill. She writes about the experience and tells us what struck her about the film, its subjects and the screening.

Recently, President Obama officially declared this November Military Family Month. As someone who has had only one enlisted extended family member, I didn’t grow up with a deep sense of knowing what it was like to be part of a military family. That changed in September, when I had the privilege of attending a Capitol Hill screening of The Way We Get By by Aron Gaudet. The film has garnered great reviews, but I believe its greatest success is its ability to touch every person who sees it, regardless of his or her political beliefs. This rang especially true at the special screening on the Hill, which was specifically geared toward military families. The event was presented as part of President Obama’s United We Serve initiative, and was sponsored by Maine Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, and Maine Representatives Michael Michaud and Chellie Pingree, along with the USO, Operation Homefront and HandsOn Network.

The Way We Get By: from the Capitol Hill screening

Maine troop greeters Joan Gaudet, Jerry Mundy and Bill Knight with Representative Michael Michaud and Senator Susan Collins, and Dr. Jill Biden. Photo courtsey of the USO.

One of the highlights of the evening was hearing Dr. Jill Biden‘s introductory remarks. The day of the screening was the same day that Beau Biden returned from his year-long tour in Iraq, and Dr. Biden relayed a story her son had told her earlier about his experience with troop greeters in New Hampshire. He said to her, “After 30 hours of flight, we deplaned to find 150 veterans and volunteers, lined up on both sides of our path. They hugged us, saluted us, shook our hands, and thanked us for our service. I will never forget how much that meant to us.” This story really moved me, because it perfectly illustrated the message of Aron’s film — that small acts of kindness, by strangers, can make such a difference, not only to those in the military but to their families as well.

The Way We Get By: from the Capitol Hill screening

Representative Michael Michaud, Senator Olympia Snowe, CPB President & CEO Patricia Harrison, Dr. Jill Biden and Senator Susan Collins.

As I’ve been working on the campaign for this film, I’ve visited a lot of military blogs, browsed through lists and lists of veterans’ resources, and read a lot about wars, past and present. As someone outside the military world, I have come to really appreciate my fellow citizens who are on the home front — people like Joan, Jerry and Bill — who have a warmth with each other and with the soldiers they greet, those who have relatives and friends in the military, and individuals who just believe in supporting the troops by doing whatever they can. It’s re-energizing to see that the spirit of community remains strong in our country, and I think it’s important to take time this month to honor our military families, spreading the message that one small act can make all the difference.

Find out about ways to support our troops and join in an ongoing conversation about war.

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Jessica Lee was a former Outreach and Development Manager for POV.