In Heart of a Soldier, SF Opera's tribute to 9/11, two platoon leaders discuss their thoughts on the Vietnam war. One says, he does not want to learn the names and lives of the men in his units. It makes it more difficult to bear when they die. The other can recitate the list of all the fatalities under his charge and those he failed to protect. We fall in the first camp when it comes to 9/11. Even ten years after the attacks, it seems too raw, too overwhelming to put on stage. We don't want to get any closer to these events, perhaps. Heart of a Soldier gives us a face, a story, an intimacy to one of the victims. We thought it's a bad idea when we first heard about it, and Saturday night's premiere did nothing to convince us.
The main protagonist is Rick Rescorla, a British soldier who enrolled in the US Army as a backdoor route to American citizenship, but also as a way to hang with his American best friend, Dan Hill. Heart of a Soldier is based on the book of the same name by James Stewart, a thick tome that covers the life of Rescorla from his youth in Cornwall to meeting Dan in Rhodesia, to his encounter with his second wife Susan, to his death in the 9/11 attacks.