Discuss the plot of The Best Years of Our Lives.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The film is about the difficulty that veterans face when reintegrating themselves into society.  After World War II, many soldiers returning home had challenges in reinserting themselves into society and doing so with "total ease."  The "Greatest Generation" had to endure some of the most horrific of situations and conditions.  In this, the film brings out some of these challenges.  Some of these are emotional or psychological, such as Al who recognizes the combat memories are difficult to simply discard.  Others are physical, as well, such as Homer, who has to deal with the physical challenge of life without his two hands.  The film explores, if only in a surface manner, how the transition back to civilian life is a challenging one for any soldier.  At a time where the myth of "the Greatest Generation" was beginning to take hold, the film brings out that war carries a cost with those who return from it and that there has to be some level of sensitivity and compassion in understanding the challenges that are endured by soldiers who return to civilian life after enduring one of active combat and all that accompanies it.

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