A few weeks ago Youngest Son and I were flipping through channels and landed on one of the three hundred HBO channels my cable company seems to carry. We ended up watching a World War II series that somehow we had missed when it first came out in 2001 called "A Band of Brothers".
This is the story of "Easy Company" of the 516 Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st airborne division and at first we thought it was just another fictional account of WWII. Later we noticed that the real people whose stories were being told were interviewed at the beginning of each episode.
We were hooked. The only problem was that we had really only seen the end of the story and not the 9 episodes before. We picked up the whole set at the local library and have been watching them for weeks now on and off.
The men interviewed really down play their heroism but some of the things these men did where unbelievable, heroic events. One example: In December 19th of 1944 they marched into Bastogne, Belgium as the German Army was sweeping through the area in the last great German offensive of the war in the Battle of the Bulge. The soldiers that had been in the area were leaving as they marched in. Within 24 hours of settling in they were completely cut off and surrounded and spent the next few days being shelled in their foxholes in the snow. Many were killed and maimed but they stood their ground in one of the famous battles of WWII.
I have been fascinated with the "Battle of the Ardennes" as it officially called since seeing that episode, especially since it happened at exactly this time of year. It's been haunting me for days as I have spent a lot of my free time reading stories and checking maps.
I also wonder what the next large scale war like this will be like. The technology has changed so much now and I think Americans have as well. Are we willing to fight like that again? I'd like to think we would but I don't know.
Either way I have a new respect for the men that fought in WWII after seeing just some of what they went through.