Be prepared to smile and to shed a tear watching this video. It is of a group of WWII veterans who fought at the Battle of the Bulge near Bastogne, Belgium over 70 years ago.
They are old men now. They have left the strength and vigor of youth behind. They have grown strong, though, in other ways after living long lives raising families, working in their jobs and professions. But their memories of that place where they fought as teenagers and 20-somethings are still vivid in their minds.
Just listen to the words of this video, the words that the people of Bastogne, and of Belgium still want to say to them these 70 years later. And listen to their own memories, hear the “stuff” that dwells in their silences.
To a man they are humble. They seem to be in awe of the respect they are shown, but also of the idea that they have lived such long and productive lives filled with love and family, work successes and challenges, that so many of their young friends who fought and died next to them those many decades ago never had a chance to know.
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One of the men, Jesse Davis, has something that he lost there in those woods around Bastogne, during the Battle of the Bulge, returned to him by a farmer who lives in the area. It’s the remains of his duffel bag, which was left behind when he was wounded by an artillery shell and evacuated.
As he explains, he carried that duffel bag with him into that battle because it was so cold and he used it as a kind of sleeping bag at night to keep his feet from freezing. It still has his service number on it, a number that, like all veterans, he still remembers to this day in his 89th year.
Enjoy this sweet journey through the past with those who were there, who suffered the terrors and the fierce determination of war together. You will wish you could hug them all.
The Veterans Site sends its deepest respect and thanks to all those WWII veterans who are still among us.
We know the truth about you. You really were the greatest generation and we owe you our lives and our liberty and so much of our country’s great success to what each of you did in your youth as members of the United States military during World War II and what you did with your lives when the war was over.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.