I went to AT&T Stadium for the 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi world premiere and left with more than just a movie experience.

All 32,000 people in attendance  went through one entrance — the line was so long I couldn’t see the doors. 

AT&T stadium provided admission, popcorn, drinks, and access to the giant movie screen  for free. The people on the red carpet provided the experience I’ll remember.

The interviews were one of my favorite parts of the night. Getting to see the actors as themselves before the movie was a treat because I knew how they felt about what they were doing on screen. John Krasinski and Michael Bay were just two of the stars that were there. Krasinski didn’t want to go back to his 600 person movie theater, Joe Trahan, , said. Bay talked about the honor he felt to be able to tell this story. 

Three of the people they portrayed in the movie were also interviewed beforehand. It was awesome to see them talk about their support for the film.  One of the men, Mark Geist, Marine Corps veteran and his wife started Shadows Warrior Project. This project helps veterans, who have served, been injured or died, and their families. Part of the reason this event was free was to promote donating to that project. 

Chris Cornell and The Band Perry performed before the movie. Cornell sang his original song from  13 Hours, “Till the Sun Comes Back Around” and The Band Perry sang “Amazing Grace”. I think music is one of the aspects that helps a movie evoke emotion. Getting to see a live performance of a song from the film enhanced the experience by hearing the artist talk about his lyric meaning to keep pressing on through hard times. 

Several times during the pre-show people honored veterans by applauding and rising to their feet. It was touching to see the support for veterans who have sacrificed parts of their lives for America. 

The movie played and I watched happily. That was only a small part of what the night was about, though. The bigger picture was honoring people  who have served, been injured or died in the military. 

After the movie, the three Marine Corps veterans, Kris Paronto, Mark Geist and John Tiegen who were portrayed and in attendance  came back to the red carpet. Paronto  was in tears because the movie probably brought back memories and emotions he experienced in Benghazi. People rose to honor them. Being able to see the portrayal of these men and them in reality moved me. I wasn’t just seeing a movie, but people working together to show their support for veterans.  

@rebeccamusgrov3

features-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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