by Editor Michael Brooks
Men, it’s been a long war, it’s been a tough war. You’ve fought bravely, proudly for your country. You’re a special group. You’ve found in one another a bond, that exists only in combat, among brothers. You’ve shared foxholes, held each other in dire moments. You’ve seen death and suffered together. I’m proud to have served with each and every one of you. You all deserve long and happy lives in peace.Leibgott [Translating a speech a German General is giving to his men after they all surrendered]
War time films and TV shows have a unique ability to change you more than other genre’s of entertainment do. They can force us to think about things that everyone senses while at the same time seemingly shrinking our own problems in comparison to what certain men and women have endured. They are human. Evil, cruelty, and suffering mixed with courage, bravery, and examples of the some of the best that we can do.
I love World War Two history. The strategy, bravery, weaponry, and heroic nature of the war has always fascinated me. I can remember the first time I truly began to love it. I was travelling with my dad (I cannot remember where, probably chess related!) and it was a long trip. He loved audio books and asked me what I would want to listen to during the ride. He had a huge collection. They were all CDs in hard large cases. These were the days before Audible! I saw “D-Day” by Stephen E. Ambrose sitting in his collection and picked it. In that trip we finished that audio book and I have loved Ambrose’s writing and World War Two history ever since.
For my Father’s Day gift this year Caiti surprised me with an incredible gift. One that was far too good for me! She surprised me with a blue ray, special edition, “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific” set. We had watched both of these series’ several years ago together but had borrowed them from her brothers. She knew I needed a set of my own. Since getting it, we of course, had to watch it. It was again, incredible. In this article I will reflect on some of the significant themes that run throughout this series that affected me.
Quick Synopsis & Review
The HBO TV series “Band of Brothers” is based on a book by Stephen E. Ambrose by the same name. It tells the story of E (Easy) Company of the 506th Regiment in the 101st Airborne. This incredible company took 150% casualties during its time in the European theater from D-Day to the end of the war. It’s skill and effectiveness lead to it being given the tough assignments. In this series (as in the book) we see the story of this amazing company of men and the courage and skill displayed throughout the war. We also see all that they endured under the oppression of war.
It was produced by legends Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. It is 10 episodes long and is made in the highest quality. It weaves together compelling character development, incredible combat scenes, heart-wrenching real-ness, with a pace that never leaves you wanting to slow down or speed up. You want to cry and smile, sometimes at the same time. It truly is a series everyone should watch because of it’s quality and significance.
The quote I shared at the top of this post is one of the Easy Company members translating a German General speaking to his men after the war is over. This ending is artistic, meaningful, and powerful. These were the words they all wanted to say to each other. These were the words Winters (beloved former company commander and current regiment commander) wanted to say. These were the words they all felt after this exhausting, painful, destructive war was over.
Here are some themes that the story, and the series, highlight. God is using this experience and the storytelling of it to affect me.
The Necessity of Duty & Fulfilling Responsibilities
One thing that rings out throughout this series is that these men were truly human. They were not always shiny and were far from perfect. They treated each other in crude and harsh ways. They complained, a lot. These men struggled. They were facing something as difficult as anyone could ever face. But they kept going, kept obeying orders, kept trudging forward. What kept them going? Why did they do it? It wasn’t pretty, or idealistic. They had a responsibility and a commitment. A duty.
Our world hates duty. Duty isn’t romantic. Duty isn’t sexy. Duty isn’t slick. Duty is difficult. Duty is hard. Duty takes away our choice. We need it back.
Duty comes in a variety of forms but in this case the men of Easy Company had a responsibility because they committed to it and because they knew it was the right thing to do. To abandon your company would be to betray the men who every minute of every day had your back. To abandon your company would mean that you were thinking about yourself more than the good of the company. To abandon your company would mean you didn’t take seriously the good goal that was seeking to be accomplished and the need of those under Germany’s destructive thumb.
God honors duty. God wants our hearts and with that He wants our commitment. There are times in life where the only thing that keeps you doing what you should be doing is duty. A relationship with the Lord isn’t just about duty. In fact, God wants far more than just duty. But it is important to remember that sometimes you do something not because you feel like it, or because it is easy, or because it brings you some benefit, but because it is the right thing to do and/or you need to see through your commitment. Oh, how our nation, society, and world needs to hear that!
The Worth of Courage
This is not insightful but simply an powerful truth. In a fallen and broken world–with sin within us and all around us–courage is needed desperately. The men of Easy Company were often cruel and did things that did not honor God. Why? Because they are humans and are sinners that disobey God. They need Christ just like the rest of us. Some had a clear relationship with God, others probably not. But, being made in God’s image, these men were also incredibly courageous.
I look at what they were willing to do and what they did and am in awe. Humanity has been created with strength. A strength and grace from God who made us. This strength is broken, shattered, and usually weak because of sin. But, at times this strength, by God’s grace, shines through. Nothing in my life compares to the difficulties that these men faced for a year-plus. I will not need that kind of courage. But God can use this to teach us something. The Lord asks us as His followers to be courageous. To be loyal (joyfully and dutifully) to Him alone. To carry out His orders. To withstand the shelling of the world, the temptation to flee, and to keep going. To run the good race as Paul says. We need this courage that the men of Easy Company displayed. Christians, we need that courage and more. We need the courage of our Lord Jesus Christ who bore the greatest suffering and difficulty. He bore the wrath of His Father in our place. He knew exactly what was going to happen and yet carried on in joyful obedience (see duty above) for us, in our place.
The Wonderful Bond of Brothers
This is probably the most obvious given the name but again is a powerful truth. In some ways, it is the mot powerful. As Christians we know that God is one being in three persons. We call that the Trinity. God has forever been in perfect relationship within the Godhead. That is why He created a world and people that need relationship and community.
Band of Brothers reminds us that bonds can be deep and strong and can get us through whatever we have to endure. But, how does this happen? It is not easy. It is not simple. We will see the ugly sides of each other. We will snap at each other. So how does one get these kinds of bonds? The bonds that matter, that we all want?
The men of Easy Company endured hardship together. They had nothing but each other. They ran into combat for each other. They pulled limbless comrades away from exploding shells because they loved each other. They committed to each other. The men of Easy Company enjoy a unique bond that no one can fathom because of the combination of hardship they endured and the fidelity of friendship they committed too. They committed to each other. You want deep relationships? Endure, commit, and love those that make up your community. Do whatever it takes to walk alongside of each other, support each other, and be willing to rescue each other regardless of the cost.
During the series, before each episode, you would get clips of some of the surviving members of Easy Company. They would discuss what the upcoming episode would be about. Repeatedly they kept tearfully circling back in some way to three things: duty, courage, and a special bond that only they can understand.
Conclusion & Application
Christians, the military and war does not have the market on close bonds or a need for the three things observed above.. We certainly do not expect to commonly face what the men of Easy Company faced, praise God. But, we are called to run our race as our responsibility. To dutifully and joyfully serve God in the face of whatever trials He puts in front of us. Read the Bible and you will see the trials of the faithful. Hebrews 11 summarizes some important ones.
We are called to run our race with godly courage. What is godly courage? To obey God, to do what is right, to commit to our marriages and churches even when it is hard. We must face the world head on and to never waiver. To keep going, crying out to God along the way, regardless of the difficulty. We do this looking toward the hope when God returns, and the war is over, that we will be able to enjoy everlasting peace in the presence of our Triune God.
We are called to dig deeply into the godly bonds He has for us. The Lord wants us to dig deeply. To commit fully to our families, churches, and friends. To come alongside of them and endure hell together. To tell them the truth. It may not be physical war that encircles us–but death, disease, hurt, pain, suffering, hopelessness and more crouch at our door every day. In Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can help each other endure. We can enjoy deep and joyful friendships and relationships. This is not done through being around for just the fun parts of life. This is done through unwavering, joyful, commitment that endures through hardship. Because of the gospel, in Christ, we have the power to do this and enjoy the eternal reward of relationships untouched by sin.
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.Paul, 1 Timothy 4:6-8
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.Paul, Romans 12:9-12