Blog 2580 – 11.21.2022
The Battle Of The Bulge
For most of us the battle of the bulge is a waistline conflict where our tummy seems to be winning the war. But for the 101st Airborne Division’s Screaming Eagles it was the German Army’s last great push to hold the Western Front during World War Two. My Uncle Walter was a survivor of that battle, but rarely shared his war stories and then only reluctantly with his older brother, my dad.
Today would have been my Uncle Walt’s birthday. He was really hoping that I would be born on his birthday, but I was born one day too late for that. In 1945, five years before I arrived, Walt was with his Band of Brothers in the Belgian woods near Bastogne surrounded by the German Army.
NPR has for years recorded stories for the National Archives and shared them on the radio in a program called Story Corp. After I was grown my dad shared a little of Uncle Walt’s story with me and it was horrendous and heart-wrenching. Some years after that I hear a Story Corp program where another member of that Band of Brothers shared his own Battle of the Bulge story. He said that after days of being barraged by German tanks surrounding Bastogne it got deathly quiet and he saw through the snow and thick trees a handsome young German who looked to be about fifteen years old crawling toward his position. He shot on both sides of the lad to warn him off but he kept coming so finally he shot to stop him. Even this battle hardened soldier confessed that after fifty he still woke up in the middle of the night with tears in his eyes picturing the face of that young boy who was cold, hungry, and away from home as he himself had been. What a burden for any young man to carry for so many years.
I thought of my Uncle Walt and the story he was so reluctant to share. Such stories change people. We need to be reminded of the true cost of war. Today on his birthday, I remember my Uncle Walt, a man of peace and good will to all.
Your friend and fellow traveler,
He Ain’t Heavy His My Brother