I was thinking about Anthem for Doomed Youth, the first poem I ever memorised, when I watched Restrepo, a documentary released in 2010 and made by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington (who was recently killed in Libya). Restrepo is the story of a valley in Afhganistan, named by the US soldiers stationed there after their friend and platoon medic, Juan Restrepo, who died there.
The overwhelming impression on watching this film is how young and naive the soldiers are and, ultimately, how futile their occupation is: they refer to fighting for their country without, at first, any reflection on how the battle for a benighted little outcrop in a foreign valley could possibly fit that description; then, as the reality of their situation sinks in, they realise, implicitly if not explicitly, that there is no reason for them to be there, no purpose to the deaths, and no meaning to the sacrifice. It's a profoundly depressing film, in many ways, in the sheer banality of the everyday existence in stultifying conditions, punctuated by brief, fierce skirmishes with an almost unseen enemy; the fear of overgrown children under fire; and the terrible anguish of loss with no gain.
Hetherington and Junger were criticised for their lack of objectivity as embedded journalists; but it's clear from this film that they were incredibly, almost recklessly brave; and they don't need to be didactic (there's no voiceover): terrible events speak for themselves.