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Stephen Lang portrays one of eight Medal of Honor recipients highlighted in his one-man show “Beyond Glory” on Wednesday at Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Lang will perform his show at U.S. military installations in Germany and Italy throughout July.
Stephen Lang portrays one of eight Medal of Honor recipients highlighted in his one-man show “Beyond Glory” on Wednesday at Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Lang will perform his show at U.S. military installations in Germany and Italy throughout July. (Steve Mraz / S&S)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The words “honor,” “bravery,” “courage” and “heroism” are often used indiscriminately, as if they were Kleenex.

Such words should be reserved for those who — through their extraordinary actions — truly give meaning and restore sanctity to each expression.

“Honor,” “bravery,” “courage” and “heroism” are aptly used and only begin to describe the extraordinary actions of the men portrayed in “Beyond Glory,” Stephen Lang’s one-man play highlighting eight Medal of Honor recipients.

Lang is performing the free show at U.S. military installations in Germany, Italy and England this month. The actor, who has starred in “Gods and Generals” and “Tombstone,” performed “Beyond Glory” on Wednesday night at Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern.

“Beyond Glory” gives an account of the individual actions for which eight troops — two sailors, five soldiers and one Marine — received the nation’s highest military honor.

Lang performs each character separately, and their stories span U.S. engagements from World War II to Vietnam.

He snaps into each new character during the 75-minute performance with a change of accent, costume and mannerisms.

Whether it is 1st Lt. Vernon Baker, a black soldier who received the Medal of Honor in 1997 for his actions during World War II, or Pvt. Hector Cafferata, a Marine who batted away enemy grenades with an entrenching tool in Korea, each story conveys the sense of humility among Medal of Honor recipients.

“I did it ’cause I’m a Marine,” said Lang while portraying Cafferata. “That’s just what Marines do.”

Or take Navy Lt. John William Finn’s reason as to why he fired against Japanese planes during the invasion of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

“I wasn’t being courageous,” said Lang while depicting Finn. “All I was was pissed off.”

After the performance, Lang conducted a nearly 30-minute question-and-answer session with the audience. He has performed “Beyond Glory” at 30 U.S. military installations around the world.

Asked what prompted him to write and act in “Beyond Glory,” Lang replied: “Like all citizens, I feel an obligation to the nation and the men and women who serve the nation.”

The show is not recommended for young children as it contains some foul language, sexual innuendo and violent descriptions of combat.

But these are the real stories of Medal of Honor recipients acted on stage and adapted from “Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words,” a book of oral histories written by Larry Smith.

These stories and the men who lived them are beyond words. They are — as the play’s title suggests — beyond glory.

The schedule ...

Friday

Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; The Brick House, 8 p.m.

Saturday

Cambrai-Fritsch Kaserne, Darmstadt, Germany; Darmstadt Escape Club, 7 p.m.

Monday

Warner Barracks, Bamberg, Germany; The Stable Theater, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday

Combat Maneuver Training Center, Hohenfels, Germany; Community Activities Center, 7 p.m.

Thursday

Caserma Ederle, Vicenza, Italy; post theater, 3 p.m.

July 16

Naval Support Activity, Naples, Italy.

July 18

Naval Support Activity, La Maddalena, Italy; Box Office Theater, 6 p.m.

July 20

Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy.

July 23

RAF Mildenhall, England, Bob Hope Community Center, 7 p.m.

For more information, contact the local public affairs office.

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