The Boys in the “Band”

Posted: August 18, 2011 in Life, Reading, storytelling
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been a student of World War II since junior high school. Strategy, armament, location, cause, aftermath – there’s a lot to learn and much to remember. At one time I could identify all the aircraft used by any country in World War II by sight alone. But all of those things, while essential to history, can’t compare to the true lessons of war – the ones you learn from the soldiers themselves.

I am a huge “Band of Brothers” fan. If you’re shrugging your shoulders and shaking your head right now, you obviously are not. Let me help you out. In 1992, Stephen Ambrose wrote “Band of Brothers”, a book that recounted the World War II experiences of the men of Easy Company, paratroopers with the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army. Ambrose researched his book by interviewing Easy Company veterans who gave him a personal view of their war, not just the fighting but the friendships, the heroism and the hardship, the insanity and the normalcy. The story of soldiers.

In 2001, thanks to Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks (and honestly, if you want to get something produced, they would be the ones to do it), HBO aired a 10 part miniseries based on Ambrose’s book. Though I’d read “Band of Brothers” not long after it was published and loved it, I didn’t see the miniseries for the simplest of reasons – we didn’t have HBO. I was working part-time in a video store when the DVDs finally came out and I brought them home, the whole set, one rainy Sunday afternoon and spent until early Monday morning watching the entire miniseries from start to finish. Eventually, I had to take them back (one missing DVD is not unusual but a wandering box set is a little tough to ignore) but now that I own the set, I still watch it, frequently.

Now that you have some grasp of what I’m talking about, you should know that “BoB” fans are a serious bunch. They know things, and I mean really KNOW things, like all the veterans’ names, who’s passed away and when, the locations for all the battles, what actor played who in the miniseries and what those actors are doing now, 10 years after the program first aired. Which brings me to the real point of this post.

This Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the miniseries, nearly a dozen of the show’s actors will be parachuting out of a plane over Devon, England to raise funds for the Richard D. Winters Leadership Project. Those monies will go toward the building of a monument in Normandy to recognize the leadership of officers like the late Major Winters who led the way on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The event, called “Jumping for Heroes”, was organized by Scottish actor/writer Ross Owen and has already drawn donations from all over the world. But it can always use more. Whether you’re a “BoB” fan or not, recognize the cause for what it is…a worthy one. To find out more, visit http://jumpingforheroes.blogspot.com/ or look for Jumping for Heroes on Facebook and Twitter.

To the actors and others who are jumping this weekend, good luck and Godspeed. And to the men of Easy Company who inspired them, thank you for your service. None can be forgotten if there are those who will remember.

If you’re looking for more great soldiers’ stories, here are a couple to grab: “The Good War“ by Louis “Studs“ Terkel, “Nam” by Mark Baker, “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, and “The Long Road Home” by Martha Raddatz

 

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Comments
  1. Has it been ten years already? Amazing. Those actors are very dedicated, I wish them great success. I’ll check out the link!

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