I am very proud of Cruel Wife. She has agreed to watch Band of Brothers from nose-to-tail. She’s not big on war movies but (1) this is more or less real, even with the embellishments, and (2) even though it is disturbing, she’s still watching it.
I have said many times that I will insist that our kids watch BoB and Saving Pvt. Ryan before they leave home, for I want them to be innoculated against those who wish to poison their minds against our country and I want them pay proper respect to our military and our veterans.
I firmly believe that with the right illustration one cannot help but gain a certain amount of respect for those who have sacrificed in either their lives, their health, and in years of service. Reading of it in a history book will not suffice. One needs the visceral nature of the event.
Now, here you may roll your eyes but hear me out.
Years ago there was a game, Call of Duty. The game developers (Infinity Ward) made it a huge point to talk to veterans, scrutinize photographs, watch video footage, and I cannot remember if some actually visited the sites of historic battles.
But the thing is, so much of Band of Brothers looked as if I had been there before. Now, I am not in any way shape or form drawing equivalency between a first-person shooter and the real war, nor can a movie do it, but I am saying that the game captured enough to have your adrenaline racing. It was damn hard to make it up the beach at Normandy, you died over and over and over again. The wire, the bunkers and trenches, the fields beyond, and the guns blazing non-stop. It was pretty intense. And so help me, there was an added bit of adrenaline watching as Market Garden went sideways. There were parts of BoB where my inner self has been screaming “Danger! Danger! You guys, there’s bad guys up on that roof! There are guns downstairs in that building over there! There’s a sniper over yonder!” In the game you’re getting shot at, guys are dying all around you, and you still have no idea where the krauts are shooting you from.
Believe it or not, a game can make you respect your soldiers more, because dammit, what they endured was hundreds of thousands of times worse. In the game you aren’t tired, you aren’t cold, you aren’t hurt, you don’t have crappy food, you don’t have some idiot asshole giving orders that make no sense at all. What you do get in the game is a visual and visceral feel for what it might have looked like, and it did not look pretty, even as inadequate as it was. That game didn’t feel like they were trying to make WWII like a level from Doom II where you get a BFG-9000 later on. You had two weapons. That was it, and lone-wolfing it didn’t work so very well. And you died if you got hit.
This time around I’m paying more attention to BoB even though the DVD’s don’t have Closed Captions – Cruel Wife is my interpreter at times.
I am therefore not blogging much for the next few nights and haven’t for the last two. I trust you’ll understand why, even if I can’t exactly explain in words my internalized metaphor that embodies all the reasons why I am compelled to try to understand that section of history a bit more. I’m sure I’m not at all alone in that, however.
Update: We just finished up Bastogne. Beautiful:
We didn’t need to be “rescued” – 101st Airborne