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World War II

Posted by lozenp on July 23, 2007

One of the things I mentioned when I started this blog was that I would let people get to know me and the things that interest me better. Let’s start with World War II.

I’m fascinated with World War II history. The people, the battles, the stories, the music of that time, all of it intrigues me. I think it started when I first saw the Band of Brothers mini-series on HBO. If you haven’t seen it, rent it. Even Amy, who is by no means a huge history buff, watched the entire series with me and was so emotionally attached that she found herself crying during the final episode. It’s just great TV.

For those that don’t know, Band of Brothers follows Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, U.S. 101st Airborne Division from their time training at camp Taccoa to their drop into Normandy on the eve of the D-Day invasions, through the Battle of the Bulge and to the end of the way. Along the way you get to know many of the soldiers very well amidst their struggles to survive.

It was this miniseries that taught me what kind of sacrifice this country made during WWII (a sacrifice that, I believe, there’s no way this country would ever make again because we’ve gotten to self-serving, but that’s another post). So many men put their lives on the line for half a decade in Europe and the Pacific, to ensure a safe and free world. I even found out little things from my grandma, like that during the war, butter looked like lard because the country rationed the coloring used to make it look yellow (side note: my grandma was in NYC to visit my grandpa, who was in the navy, on the day an airplane hit the Empire State Building on July 28, 1945. They were planning to go to the Empire State after breakfast that morning. She remained in the city until August and was there on Aug. 15 for VJ Day and the end of the war).

I’m fascinated by the sense of brotherhood you hear any WWII vet talk about. Two years ago, the 60th anniversary of the end of the war, the History Channel ran a 26-week series called the Last days of World War II. It earned the coveted #1 spot in my Tivo series priority, as well as “Save until I delete” status, high praise indeed. It was my Saturday morning ritual to watch this show.

People always talk about the bonds of friendship, and how tight they are. I don’t think any of us can really understand how far that bond can take you. Imagine sitting in a foxhole, in the middle of a snow-covered forest with temperatures well below freezing and nothing to keep you warm but the guy sitting next to you. Add in thousands of soldiers all around you  aiming to kill you. And then the next day that buddy gets shot right next to you. I find that I’m having a hard time even articulating what I’m trying to say. There’s a reason they were called “The Greatest Generation.”

Obviously I’m biased because I’m already interested in it, but I really encourage you to watch Band of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan and not be amazed by what our soldiers went through. I’d love to see a movie that details the situation at home during the war, if you have a suggestion, let me know, because without the support of the country, without the manufacturing power, without the women back home going to work for the war effort, things might have been very different.

It’s amazing to me that in a short time, there will be no more survivors from this world-changing event. Stats say that WWII vets are dying at a rate of 1,000 a day. I just think that it’s so important that Jack and the rest of the younger generation know the sacrifice made in the 1940s and how it still impacts them today.

Just a note, in September, Ken Burns is premiering an 11-part miniseries on WWII on PBS, it looks very good. You can bet I’ll be watching all 11 episodes.

Sorry for the long rambling post. I’ve had this one started for some time now and I still don’t know how to write what I want to say so I’ll just get it out.

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