Nation pays tribute to sacrifices of veterans

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In an event befitting the nation’s movie capital, the GI Film Festival Hollywood was launched this weekend in Los Angeles.

Films at the two-day festival highlighted the successes and sacrifices of American military personnel and the worldwide struggle for democracy, said festival co-founder Brandon Millett. Movies must have at least one main character, real or fictitious, who plays a military role with respect.

The festival’s mission is to preserve the stories of American vets, he said.

“We noticed a lot of films portray GIs in an unfavorable light,” said Millett, who founded the festival with his wife, a West point graduate. “We wanted to show the courage, the heroism and the sacrifice of men and women in uniform.”

The festival showcased eight feature films culled from Millett’s annual GI Film Festival held in Washington, D.C., in May, and debuted short films made by filmmakers who are veterans. It also recognized actors for their contributions to the U.S. Armed Forces and held a fundraising auction to benefit the Semper Fi Fund, which aids wounded Marines and their families.

“We show all aspects of the GI experience, in the arena of war and when they come home,” Millett said.

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Chicago’s National Veterans Art Museum unveiled its latest exhibit called “Welcome Home” as it celebrated its grand reopening in a new location.

“`Welcome home’ is the customary message given to soldiers returning from war,” a museum statement said. “After this initial greeting, familiarity dissolves and the traumas of war surface. Veterans set out to relearn the world they left behind, and their family meets a transformed person.”

The exhibit is part of a series that examines the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the rising need for mental health care for returning veterans

The museum has more than 2,500 works of veterans’ art with the mission of inspiring greater understanding of the real impact of war with an emphasis on Vietnam. The museum focuses art inspired by combat and created by veterans.

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A Las Vegas casino rolled out the red carpet for some 60 injured veterans in a special Veterans Day weekend trip.

The annual “Salute to the Troops” weekend started with free American Airlines flights for veterans and their guests and a welcoming committee of MGM Resorts employees Thursday.

Employees held welcome signs, waved flags and chanted “USA” as the honored guests arrived.

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