They served their country, most of them, many decades ago. But when the old military men and women of Bangor, Maine, realized that most American troops sent to serve in the Iraq War passed through their airport, coming and going, they found one more service to give.
Aron Gaudet's simple, moving documentary The Way We Get By captures these homespun folks as they make the phone calls to wake each other up, put on their "Maine Troop Greeters" hats and buttons, and make sure the last faces from home that these soldiers see are friendly, that the first hand they shake coming off the plane on the way home has a cell phone in it to call mom, dad or a girlfriend or boyfriend.
Some greeters are ambivalent on the war. Some are a little too eager to share their own war stories. But one aged vet, Bill, lets everything else in his life slide -- housekeeping, the works -- if a plane is coming in or going out. This "mission" gives them purpose. The whole airport has been turned into a shrine to the fallen and a place to track the years the conflict has gone on and the vast tally of soldiers greeted.
Hardened soldiers' eyes mist over at their reception in Bangor. Yours will to in this sweet little film.
Screening at: 7 p.m. Sunday, March 29, Regal; 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, Regal.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times