People who die too young. Every time I have to write an obituary at work for someone under 50 a little piece of me dies inside. This applies in the real world and in movies and literary works, and in songs. Tonight my boyfriend was listening to System of a Down and I actually decided to pay attention to the lyrics, and one part said “They were crying when their sons left/God is wearing black/He’s gone so far to find no hope/He’s never coming back/They were crying when their sons left/All young men must go/He’s gone so far to find the truth/He’s never going home” and I just about LOST it. My boyfriend thought I was dying or something the way I burst into tears.
Courage. Not brainless idiocy, but actual courage. You hear the “Let’s Roll” stories from 9/11, the stories of people saving other people, sometimes at the cost of their own lives, the scenes in the movies where people don’t hesitate to stand up for what’s right, be that saving someone else’s life or just telling someone they’re wrong. Those always get to me.
Color guards. Seriously. I was an Army Brat and in ROTC in high school, so when I see those flags go by with their armed guards I always have to wipe a few tears away.
And of course, the deaths of characters you grow to love. There was this one book series I read, and you just got to know the character, from birth until his death at a ripe old age as one of the most loved people on the planet, and when he died it was so bittersweet. The author did write a good death for him, though.