This weekend marks 70th anniversary of Allied forces landing in
during World War Two. Bad luck stung me during a recent storm and the only place I could get online was the library. I found a desk, took care of business and on my way out discovered I was in the history section. Looking at titles I saw Stephen Ambrose’s “Band of Brothers.” It seemed appropriate to check it out.
The HBO series left out some important details and even after 70 years we still don’t learn. Easy Company helped thwart the German offensive at
then was ordered on the offensive. It seems logical an outfit that had been in
would be pulled to the rear. Ambrose makes a stunning and effective argument. Our government made a prewar decision to be lavish with industrial and farm labor deferments. We simply did not raise sufficient forces to fight a two-front war. Ambrose omits (give him a break, he taught at LSU) the fact we chose, for the most part, to exclude black soldiers from combat. Eisenhower had little choice, the 82nd and 101st could not be relieved.
Today, government decisions affect the Department of Veterans Affairs. The war in
has drug on since 2001. Since we chose limited mobilization (again), soldiers have had multiple combat tours. Unfortunately repeated tours increase the chances of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We know the VA’s record keeping scandal and treatment delays. As a nation though we place a higher priority on tax reductions, useless hardware and sequester cuts than veteran care. Yes the VA was spared sequester reductions. However, Stars and Stripes reports (Feb. 26, 2013) sequester cutbacks would increase demand for VA services thus stretching an overloaded system.
The series “Band of Brothers” ignored those who struggled after the war but the book didn’t. Sergeant Talbert never shook his demons. Dick Winters paid Talbert the ultimate compliment. If he had to choose one man for a combat mission with him “it would be Talbert.” Talbert’s epitaph, written by a Company E comrade, noted, “He paid a dear price for his service to his country. He could not have given more without laying down his life.” During the VA brouhaha, you heard scant mention concerning young vets committing suicide. Stars and Stripes (May 31, 2014) reported on a young Marine who overdosed. The article pointed out almost 20 percent of returning personnel deal with PTSD with a similar ratio for traumatic brain injury. According to Stars and Stripes, suicide rates average more than 20 daily with rates highest for young, recently discharge personnel.
Joe Dollar sprung for my first Sanford Stadium ticket. On the trip to
, he related many stories including one particular incident. During World War II he was wounded severely, while recuperating he headed for a party somewhere in
. Some fool dropped firecrackers behind him. He started swinging fists and didn’t stop until three men wrestled him down. Big Joe still chuckled. In
, Merle Haggard dedicated “Fighting Side of Me” to everyone who fought for
. Before strumming the first chord, The Hag added, “We sure have a lot of wars.”
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