Introducing: my new Band of Brothers obsession

I don’t even quite remember how we got on the subject or why my dad suggested that we start watching it (and it’s a fourth or fifth re-watch for him and my mom)…but somehow about a week or so ago, I started watching Band of Brothers. 

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GUYS. This show. I haven’t fallen this deep into a fandom since Spring 2015 when I turned into a raving Trekkie–and yes, Band of Brothers is considered a fandom, albeit a history-based one–and GUYS GUYS GUYS. It’s amazing.

This 10-part HBO miniseries first aired in 2001, so it’s a little over 15 years old. 15 years ago I was only 10, and I’ve always been a bit leery of it because of my dad’s warnings about language and violence…so that explains why it’s taken me this long to finally get into it. Yes, there is realistic WWII violence, and I try to mentally bleep out the cussing–but the rest of it is, in my opinion, absolutely worth it.

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Band of Brothers is based on (and extremely faithful to) Stephen Ambrose’s book by the same name. It’s the story of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division…a company of paratroopers whose unbreakable bond saw them through the D-Day invasion of Normandy, the disastrous Operation Market Garden in Holland, and the Battle of the Bulge. They gained a reputation as some of the toughest, fastest, and most daring soldiers in the European Theater before finally making it to the finish line: Hitler’s Berchtesgaden fortress, the “Eagle’s Nest.”

But what makes Easy Company so fascinating and endearing is that aforementioned bond between the men. Their motto, “Currahee” (the name of the steep hill where they’d have training exercises in Georgia) means “We stand alone together”–and that’s exactly what they did. Even after the war, they maintained close friendships with each other. Fifteen of them are still alive.

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Certainly not all of the men of Easy Company, but several of them! See any familiar faces? (*wink*)

I just finished the sixth (and absolutely heartbreaking) episode, “Bastogne.” I’m finally at the point where I can pretty much recognize all of the prominent characters on the spot. (Reading the book at the same time helps with that, as well as dedicating a Pinterest board to the show.) Dick Winters, Ronald Spiers, Lewis Nixon, Bill Guarnere, Harry Welsh, Buck Compton, Joe Toye, George Luz, Don Malarkey, Ed Heffron and Eugene Roe…these are all my new friends and heroes.

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There are plenty of others, of course, but those are the ones I know (and love) the best so far. Luz is absolutely hilarious. Guarnere and Toye are tough as nails. Buck Compton is a big blue-eyed cinnamon roll. Spiers is…well, Spiers is rather scary in a rather cool way. Malarkey is adorable, smol, and sassy. Roe is a soft-spoken Cajun. And you mustn’t ever call Heffron anything other than “Baaaaaabe.”

But as heroic and lovable as they all are, their leader is the most heroic and lovable. And I know from my eager devouring of anything and everything about Easy Company that they would not argue with me on this point.

Dick Winters…oh gosh, y’all.

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The real Dick Winters, 1918-2011

Remember how I said that nobody had supplanted Jim Kirk in my heart last year? Jim Kirk just got kicked down several notches.

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Damian Lewis as Dick Winters

And Dick Winters was real. As in “not fictional.” As in “this guy actually lived.” You know how certain kill-joys people always say about our favorite characters, “Eh, nobody is that wonderful in real life?” or “nobody could possibly be that lucky in battle except for George Washington with his bullet-riddled coat?”

Well, that’s just because they never heard of Dick Winters.

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He was a Pennsylvanian, born and raised, who believed in working hard, making the best use of his time, and investing in himself so he could be a better citizen and leader of men. He was a fearless soldier, yet Stephen Ambrose called him “the gentlest of men.” He didn’t drink, didn’t swear, didn’t go off carousing with the ladies–but he wasn’t snooty about it. His men knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he cared about them, and his humble courage and battlefield brilliance was respected by everyone. (Well, everyone except for the first, mean-spirited captain of Easy Company, who resented Winters’ popularity with the rest of the soldiers.)

One of the Easy Company men wrote in a letter to Winters after the war, “Dick…you are loved.”

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I watch and read about Winters, and I see the kind of man I’ve always admired, whether real or fictional: a compassionate, courageous, intelligent, thoughful leader, with an unshakeable sense of right and wrong. He inspires and encourages me so much–not just as an amazing example of the Greatest Generation, but as a man of solid, honest, gentle character.

I’m sure this won’t be the last time I talk about this amazing miniseries or its characters on this blog…so there’s your heads-up that we’ve got a new obsession in town 😉 In the meantime, enjoy this video of Katherine Jenkins singing the theme song. In fact, if you love epic, heartstring-tugging music and just listen to the whole soundtrack on YouTube. You won’t regret it.

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7 thoughts on “Introducing: my new Band of Brothers obsession

  1. *applause*!! This is awesome!! I love what you said about Winters, and it’s true: there ARE people who are as wonderful, selfless, and kind as any of our most favorite fictional heroes. I’ve found the most inspirational folk down my travels in war stories, especially of the Greatest Generation. I think there’s just something about that time, about the choices people had to make in their everyday lives and the stakes everyone knew they were facing. Hardships do better people make.

    He reminds me a little bit of what I’d read about DeForest Kelley, my fave from Trek. A true gentleman, a quiet but faithful soul. So yeah. People who are good and honest and brave DO exist. So long as there are people who admire this kind of person there are people who will want to be like them.

    I’d love to follow along your BoB adventures.. man it’s been so long since I first fell for it. I think Harry Potter was just finishing its last film… Gee. But good stories are timeless. Currahee!

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    1. I squeaked a bit when you mentioned Deforest Kelley–and I agree with that assessment 100%! And your statement about how “as long as there are people who admire this kind of person, there are people who will want to be like them”–that’s SO encouraging. Because I can get very discouraged looking around and thinking, “Where are the noble-but-humble people THESE days?” Hopefully Winters remains an inspiration for lots of people, whether man or woman, for many years to come.

      Currahee! 😊

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      1. Ah! Yes spread the De love! If you ever catch his biography “From Sawdust to Stardust” you’ll find so much of his Southern gentleman humility. Or as a quote from his bio states,

        “In those days, men proved their strength and manliness by being well mannered, helpful, and gentle. Just how gentle they could be under trying circumstances, how civilised they could be in a harsh world, that was the measure of a man.”

        Such great words to live by, and certainly ones I feel from Winters as well.

        PS I found a blog with BoB things, and I just had to share the Winters and Nixon adorableness:

        Also, and this might be something you’ve not seen yet, but consider it a teaser of Winter’s continued awesomeness: http://dmalarkey.tumblr.com/post/155282439281

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      2. Oh WOW. I love that from Kelley’s biography! So applicable to him (not to mention applicable to Dr. McCoy!) and to the men of the Greatest Generation. Thank you so much for sharing!

        And thank you a thousand times for sharing that Tumblr blog, omgosh. I’ve taken to calling Winters and Nixon “Steve and Bucky In Real Life,” y’know. Too much sassy adorableness from those two. Both of those GIF-sets were perfection itself 😉

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, sir! And thank you for those links; those pictures are magnificent! I’ve had the best time discussing Band of Brothers with Ashie. I’m finishing the final episode this evening, and I can say in all honesty that it’s been a life-changing experience. I’ve always loved World War II history thanks to my own dad’s longtime interest in it, but Band of Brothers has brought that love and respect for the Greatest Generation to a whole new level. I’m more grateful than ever before for men like your great-uncle who sacrificed so much.

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  2. This is a fantastic post and I agree 100%. I’m a huge World War ll buff and have seen the Band of Brothers several times. Aside from the language, I believe it is one of best WWII films/miniseries I’ve ever seen. I believe the leadership principles that Major Winters introduced to us after he returned from the war are very relevant even today. http://vault.theleadershiphub.com/blogs/inspiration-10-leadership-principles-dick-winters
    Again, I very much enjoyed reading your post.

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