Semper Fi: Always Faithful
Rachel Libert, Tony Hardmon, USA, 2011, color, HDcam, 76'
The motto of the American Marine Corps is "Semper Fi," or "Always Faithful." But is this credo being lived up to? Veteran Master Sergeant Jerry Esminger lived for many years on Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the United States. When his small daughter died of leukemia in the 1980s, it first appeared to be a terrible twist of fate. But later, Esminger discovered that chemicals had been seeping into the drinking water at Camp Lejeune for years, and that many other people had lost children or had been stricken with rare forms of cancer. He decides to seek compensation from his former employer, but stumbles upon an unprecedented cover-up. In a style worthy of Erin Brockovich, Esminger puts all his energy into getting to the bottom of one of the biggest water pollution scandals in American history. Over a period of three years, we follow him and others who have suffered, as he attempts to get the military organization that he faithfully served for 25 years to take responsibility. Directors Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon show the resolute determination of Esminger and his small band of comrades, as well as the high price that they pay.