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When I was a kid, the copy of The Hunt For Red October we recorded off the TV was one of my favorite movies. My dad was a submariner, and while he had served on missile boats instead of fast attack ones like the American sub Dallas, he was able to give the perspective of someone who’d actually been there and done that in his commentary on the movie. (E.g., when Dallas evades a live torpedo by surfacing so quickly it breaches halfway out of the water, his comment was, “If you didn’t have an emergency before you did that, you do now, because if you don’t have enough air to repressurize the ballast tanks you’re going to be sinking as fast as you surfaced.”)
In the middle of the movie, there’s a quiet scene where the defecting Russian captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) and his first officer Vasily Borodin (Sam Neil) are discussing what life will be like in America.
“I would like to live in Montana. Will they let me do that?”
“I would think they’d let you live wherever you wanted.”
“In that case, I will live in Montana. And I will marry a round American woman, and raise rabbits, and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pickup truck … or possibly even a recreational vehicle. And I will drive state to state. Do they let you do that?”
“No papers. State to state.”
The first time I saw the movie, at around ten or eleven, my parents patiently explained that in the Soviet Union, we would have had to get the state’s permission to visit our grandparents or cousins who lived out of state. That being in America meant we didn’t have to have things like travel papers, and freedoms like that were why Marko and Vasily and the other officers were willing to risk their lives to come to America.
Yesterday, I got my travel papers that allow me to leave my house to go to work.
To Law Enforcement & Emergency Services Personnel:
The bearer of this letter is employed by [company name] of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia in an essential capacity – providing transportation and logistics services to maintain and inspect infrastructure for hospitals, medical center campuses, public buildings and the like. Both President Trump’s National Emergency Orders and state and
local stay at home orders exempt essential service businesses.
This letter verifies the essential nature of the bearer’s duties and is not intended in any way to encroach upon the authority and laws of state and local governmental authorities. This designation is only meant to address travel to and from work assignments. If you need to verify the bearer’s employment and that he/she is currently on assignment with [company name], please contact our office …
Near the end of the movie, Vasily Borodin is shot by a KGB officer trying to stop the defection. As he lies dying, he confesses “I would have liked to have seen Montana” — his idealized land of freedom, where no one could demand proof of permission to go where you pleased.
I would like to be in Vasily’s Montana.Published in