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WE WERE SOLDIERS

About The Story
We Were Soldiers" is based on the best-selling book which details the events of the battle of LZ X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, We Were Soldiers Once...And Young, written by Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore (Retired) and civilian war correspondent Joseph L. Galloway, both of whom endured the brutal battle and vowed to tell the story of the men who fought and died there.

"Many of our countrymen came to hate the war we fought," Moore and Galloway write in their prologue. "Those who hated it the most - the professionally sensitive - were not, in the end, sensitive enough to differentiate between the war and the soldiers who were ordered to fight it. We knew what Vietnam had been like, and how we looked and acted and talked and smelled. No one in America did. Hollywood got it wrong every damned time, whetting politically twisted knives on the bones of our dead brothers.  When it was over, the dead did not get up, dust themselves off and walk away. The wounded did not wash away the red and go on with life, unhurt. Those who were miraculously unscratched were by no means untouched. Not one of us left Vietnam the same young man he was when he arrived. This story stands as tribute to the hundreds of young men of the 320th, 33rd and 66th Regiments of the People's Army of (North) Vietnam who died by our hand in that place. They, to, fought and died bravely. They were a worthy enemy. We who killed them pray that their bones were recovered from that wild, desolate place where we left them, and taken home for decent and honorable burial. This is our story and theirs."

It was a story that moved people, and for director/writer/producer Randall Wallace, it inspired him to recreate Moore and Galloway's stirring memorial to heroism on film.

"I came across the book in 1993 or '94," recalls Wallace. "I was getting ready to take a plane trip, and I went into the bookstore and saw a book with a cover and title that attracted me. The title had a kind of literary majesty to it that made me think it might be something interesting to read. I opened it on the flight, and by the time I got off the plane I knew I had to be involved in the project in some way. I called my agent immediately and said, 'There's this book and I know someone owns the movie rights to it. Find out who does and tell them I want to write the screenplay adaptation.' He let me know the next day that the authors had never sold the movie rights and that they weren't particularly interested in that."

Wallace was undeterred. He got Moore and Galloway's contact information and called them directly.

"I reached Joe Galloway first because he's a reporter, remembers Wallace. "I talked  with Joe a little and then sent them both a letter that said, 'Look, anything I say will make me sound like one more Hollywood razzmatazz artist, so I'm not going to give you a pitch. You don't know who I am. You've never heard of me. You've never heard of any of my work. But I'd like to send you a couple of screenplays and let you read them, and if you like what you read, then call me and we'll talk about how to make the film.' I sent them 'Braveheart' and another screen play, which was about American patriotism in a different period of history. They read my scripts and called back and said, 'OK, let's talk.'"

Mel Gibson, who has the challenge of portraying the real—life hero of the story, recalls that Wallace did have to do a little talking to convince Moore and Galloway because they were adamant that the film be true to the sentiment of the book. In the end, however, it was Wallace's personality and integrity that convinced the two men to lend their story to the filmmaker.

"Randall is a man of his word," says Gibson. "He just got down and talked with Hal and Joe and won them over. In the end, they were confident

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