A post I should have done and never did!
Good observations on the differences between Christian worship (and fellowship) in England and in the U.S.
I finished the Band of Brothers series on video last night. It was clearly HBO’s finest hour!
I love the personal touch. Never have I seen so eloquently the fact that history is a very large river made up of the smaller trickles and streams of everyone’s personal story!
I love that the producers (Tom Hanks, whom I learned is a huge World War II buff, and Stephen Spielberg, who has produced some epics about World War II already in the past) took very little creative license with the stories of the individual men of Easy Company, 101st Airborne.
If a man lost a leg in a specific battle in real life, that is how it happened in the film.
In fact, the most interesting part of the entire series was the documentary at the end in which the survivors were interviewed and gave more details of their individual stories.
I wept as they introduced the real Major Winters, who remained lifelong best friends with Lieutenant Nixon, and even moved to New Jersey so he could work for Lieutenant Nixon in the factory he inherited from his father.
The men of Easy Company have held annual reunions, along with their families, ever since the war ended. Can we even fathom an annual reunion that has lasted for almost 70 years so far?
Since Easy Company was the assault company of their battalion, they saw some things they still cannot express, especially in the Battle of the Bulge, where they lived in foxholes in the Ardennes Forest for a winter. Even a documentary cannot get some words past their lips. And many wept as they spoke, even after almost 70 years. These men, who refer to themselves as ordinary and to those who died as heroes, gave the best of their youth to their country. Many entered the Army at age 17 or 18 and served for at least the next three years.
Often life is so much fuller with warmth and love and heroism than fiction ever could be!
For Christmas this year I treated myself to the six-DVD set of Band of Brothers, as originally seen on HBO. I had long looked forward to seeing this series.
I have seen all but the last DVD (two episodes). It is a fine, historical series. No huge surprises, as most of us know the story of World War II.
What is awe-inspiring is the interviews at the beginning of each episode with Easy Company, 101st Airborne survivors. I so hope at the end of the series they identify the survivors by name, as it is easy to fall in love with the amazing young men in the series, as portrayed by today’s young actors. It would be wonderful to know which ones have survived to a ripe old age (many, many of them die in the series, as they did in real life).
The series does not veer too far in either direction–it does not glamorize nor vilify war. It shows that many bodies were (and are) shattered by it. It is not for the faint of stomach, in fact.
But it allows us to form our own conclusions from history, as it should. It leads people to think.
I did not realize that the 101st Airborne’s winter defending Bastogne was much like Washington’s winter at Valley Forge. One survivor says he still tells his wife, when it gets cold and snowy outside their home, “At least I am not sleeping outside in the snow in Bastogne.”
Men are shown huddled under blankets in foxholes, sleeping like a heap of kittens with other men for warmth. Amazing times.
It is totally understandable how the men of Easy Company have remained best friends and closest of brothers during the ensuing decades. They say no one else could even understand what rigors and horrors they undertook that winter.
In the battle for Bastogne and in their other battles, they had over 100% casualties (lots of replacements sent in were killed or injured, too).
Amazing times. Amazing men. I am glad this series was made.
This is going to be dangerous territory.
There are some ideas that you cannot call out in the U.S. without people who hold them realizing they are being called out for holding those ideas.
You can call it a “conversation” if you wish, but if you have talked with said individuals numerous times and have found it to be like hitting your head against a brick wall, then you doubtless are aware that this is not really a conversation.
Sometimes you just have to say things plainly and . . .if people hold other views and feel their views are being attacked, well, that is actually true.
You see, not all ideas are equally valid, no matter what we say about free speech. You have a right to say it. But just saying words does not gain you validity, nor followers. You have to know what you are saying and be able to back it up.
People who have not studied history have the same right to free speech as the rest of us. But they also have the right to listen to others laugh at them when they say silly things, due to not knowing history.
In the marketplace of ideas, laughter is a valuable thing. We don’t need to suppress speech. But we do have to research what we are saying if we hope to have our speech be respected.
I have a friend in my age group who has been a valuable person to help me understand how some folks in younger generations look at the military in the U.S. She has helped me with that because she holds many of the same views as our younger generation generally does.
The military is regarded, nowadays, as an unaffordable luxury. What are we protecting, after all?
As a student of history, I see that mindset as myopic. Tragically so.
But it may take another world war to turn that mindset around.
My friend has often made statements about the military not having a right to an opinion about what she calls “other entitlement programs.” Yes, she will say, “You have your entitlements like the commissary and Tricare, so you have to keep quiet about the entitlements of the rest of us.”
Really? So when you serve 27 years for it, as I did, it is still regarded as an “entitlement”?
So when the government signs your paycheck because you work for the government, it is the same as when the government signs a welfare check? Have we told the President and the Congress that their paychecks are “entitlements”?
I totally get it about not treating welfare recipients as pariahs. But that does not mean they earn their checks in the same way the military does. You don’t turn it around and elevate the self respect of welfare recipients by lumping them in with the military, for whom we have traditionally held the highest respect of all.
In an era of limited resources, it would go far toward healing some of the U.S.’s divides if people would at least act appreciative of the military while asking them to take 50% of the budget cuts (note: the military is not 50% of the budget, but we are regarded as having more discretionary dollars than Medicaid, Medicare, social security or welfare).
I totally get it that most of our Senators and Congresspeople have no military service, for the first time in history. So they can’t really appreciate us unless they are students of history. Sometimes they try to give us lip service. Sometimes they don’t bother.
I totally understand that most people sleep through high school history classes and some even do that in college. But . . . I entered the military with a very sparse knowledge of history and just started reading . . . It is amazing what history books, even good historical fiction, can do for you! I always loved history. Now I have a pretty broad background in it.
There is no excuse for not understanding the Cold War or what the U.S. did to preserve freedom in World Wars I and II. There is no reason for anyone to not tell a Viet Nam vet “thank you for your service” with full understanding of why that phrase matters to him.
And, more recently, our next “greatest generation” that gave the strength of its youth in Iraq and Afghanistan needs to be praised and encouraged, not lumped in with welfare recipients as “entitlement folks.”
It is important. Very important.