The stirring and unsettling words printed above are accompanied on screen in Shadow on the Land by impressive views of national landmarks that we Americans hold dear: the Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument.
The people, in essence, gave the Leader "a blank check."
As the drama commences, an ISF officer, Colonel Andrew Davis (Jackie Cooper) is arrested by authorities for stealing documents pertaining to the Leader's new top-secret initiative, "Operation Hammer."
But the flag goes up; Old Glory reigns.
We've seen people doing this very thing, or something quite like it, in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Fighting to the death for the cause of freedom. But as Americans, we really haven't had to do that. We recently fought two wars, but most citizens haven't had to give up our sons or daughters to wage them. We haven't even had to endure tax hikes, or conserve our oil.
What would you and I do if you lived in the America portrayed in Shadow on the Land?
Shadow on the Land delvers further into this concept.
A high-ranking Colonel in the ISF, Shep McCloud (Marc Stanger) is actually working for the Resistance, and he delivers a wounded Davis to Davis' brother, a priest at the local Midnight Mission, played by Gene Hackman.
Even the hesitant priest comes to McCloud's aid, after Colonel Davis's death by torture. The movie ends at the dawn of Christmas, with the reminder that "there's always another battle to fight."
Still, America in 1968 looks almost the same as we remember it. There are freeways, Christmas decorations, office meetings, restaurants, etc. The only difference is that no one is free. That concentration camps dot the landscape, and every park, every avenue, every building is is monitored by the ever-present ISF soldiers.
The point transmitted by this scene is plain and clear: a fascist state depends on two things: a militia to bully people, and an apathetic, cowed populace. Again, this got me thinking. Who would I rather be? The guy who dies raising the flag? Or the guy staring down at his lunch plate as a free man is captured and tortured?
So many voters are poorly educated, not taking the time to know the positions of the candidates they support, much less American history.
But again, while watching, I just kept thinking that something like this TV-movie could be done very effectively today, when we've moved into a more technological age, when both political parties have apparently accepted surveillance of U.S. citizens without oversight, and the right of American interests to torture anyone deemed an enemy.
I also liked the film's notation that all the people in a democracy deserve equal rights. Not special rights...equal ones.
This was a crucial point in 1968, a tumultuous year that saw the death of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. It was the year of the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, too.
Today, such issues are still with us.
I wonder how it would have been welcomed...