Veteran’s Day for me is primarily about WWII. I know it is based on Armistice Day from WWI and encompasses all men and women who have served our country, but due to my connection to WWII through my grandfather, WWII is the quintessential example of a just war and valiant service. And while I have watched so many films about the European theater in WWII, mostly with my father, I find Band of Brothers to be the quintessential movie about it.
The 10-episode mini-series, based on the equally marvelous book by Stephen Ambrose (which I have also read), chronicles the journey of the paratroopers of Easy Company from basic training in Toccoa, Ga. (not far from where I now live) through the war. Each episode begins with several men talking about their experiences. At the end of episode 10, they are revealed to be the men you have followed through the horrors and victories of war.
I am drawn to a variety of characters and story lines as the plot evolves. My disdain for a Cpt. Sobel applauds the determination of the non-coms. My admiration for the straight-laced, focused Winters approves his rise from Lt. to Major. The quiet way of Lipton and his humility inspires me. My concern for the men in general leaves me distraught at their deaths, injuries, loss, and struggles. I find myself moved from one extreme to another within the same episode. While I don’t begin to understand what my grandfather experienced–as he trained, invaded North Africa, fought through Italy, France, and Germany, liberated a German town defended with Tiger tanks, and returned home while many of his men did not–or the men of Easy Company experienced–as they trained, parachuted into Normandy, battled their way through Europe, survived in Bastogne, watched the Germans fold, and returned home missing brothers–watching Band of Brothers moves me, makes me struggle with what my reaction would be, invites me to gauge my own determination, and provides a clear image of the men who we honor on Veterans Day.
The following clip is the taking of Foy after the winter in Bastogne. The officers in play are the incompetent Lt. Dike, his rightly-concerned Sgt. Lipton, the former commander of Easy Cpt. Winters, and the savior Lt. Spears
If you have not seen this series, I encourage you to. It is not for the faint of heart or those with a weak stomach as the violence of war is clear and wrenching.
Today as we observe Veterans Day through bank holidays and school closings, I encourage you to pray for our veterans as they struggle with the situations and actions their oath faced them with, our current military personnel for their safety and well-being, and our world that we would endeavor to have societies that did not require such sacrifice of our men and women.