It’s the things we do everyday, our quirks and idiosyncratic tendencies that allow us to forget the imminent end of the line. We cover in flowers the times that break our hearts, and we bandage the bruises we get from falling flat on our faces. And through it all, we get by.

The Way We Get By is a documentary about three troop greeters, 87-year-old Bill, 75-year-old Joan and 74-year-old Jerry. Eager and engaging senior citizens, they meet every day at a small airport to thank American soldiers departing to and returning from Iraq. In lieu of knitting and fishing, the army supporters generously commit to sharing their love with strangers who have risked their lives for the safety and well being of the American public.

However, these unsung elders are battling with problems of their own. Bill is an eccentric World War II vet who regularly greets soldiers in order to right the injustice committed upon fighters who returned from Vietnam without any recognition for serving their country. On the day he found out he has cancer, Bill was still the first one at the airport.

Joan has had three knee operations and greatly fears falling and going out after dark. As a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, she began greeting troops as a cure for empty nest syndrome. Though she adores greeting the returning soldiers, Joan is unable to see them leave. As her granddaughter will soon be deployed for Iraq, the senior must confront her issues of letting go.

Jerry is haunted by the sudden death of his son who fell ill and passed away decades ago. He finds that troop greeting is a therapeutic way to cope with his loss. With his dog and best friend, Mr. Flannigan, Jerry must come to terms with his own mortality in the face of the endless vitality of the young soldiers.

The Way We Get By tries to escape the tedium of post-9/11 films that feed society’s obsession with blood, guts and polarized enemies. Instead, it is a character study of regular people who work with heart and compassion in the smallest of ways.

However, this film is by no means perfect. The stories are jumbled and seemingly unresolved, and there is little progressive action throughout. But if you have any humanity left in you, you won’t be able to hold back the tears as illness, depression and loneliness strike in the face of overwhelming patriotism.

Grade: C+

The Way We Get By releases in select theaters Aug. 14.