Band of Brothers is a 10-episode series from HBO that should be shown to every school kid across the nation.
I don’t subscribe to the notion that the youth of today have become lazy, too dependent on their electronics and don’t appreciate what the generations before have accomplished (though they’re more than willing to point out how past generations have ruined their future). Today’s generation and the generation before it grew up with cynicism when it comes to the concept of heroism and sacrifice.
They’ve more than earned that right because their government and those tasked to serve and protect them have failed often enough (though their successes in serving and protecting rarely gets mentioned). While I understand the cynicism and doubt of the current generation and the one before it, it doesn’t change the fact that most of those who lived in the so-called “Greatest Generation” did their duty with honor and tried to make the country prosperous for the generations to come.
That’s why the scene which affected me the most from Band of Brothers wasn’t one of combat, the quiet solitude before battle or the camaraderie exhibited by those who served and fought together for what they thought and believed to be a just cause. No, the scene which hit me the most closed out the series and comes from Maj. Richard Winters. He quotes a passage from a letter he received from one of his men through the years. The letter was from Mike Ranney and in it were words that best signifies why we celebrate Memorial Day and why we should continue to honor and pay respect to this “Greatest Generation” who are gradually leaving us for good.
In what’s become an annual tradition in the Sandoc household since it first aired, Band of Brothers will be marathoned (and of late it’s companion series The Pacific)
The series was produced by both Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks who years before made the equally powerful film Saving Private Ryan. That film introduced the younger generation of today about the true details of heroism and horror that was World War II. What was becoming a dry and academic exercise in schools was suddenly given life in the vivid and heartbreaking imagery as seen through the eyes of Spielberg and the personal accounts of the men of the “Greatest Generation” who went to war and survived to tell their tales.
Band of Brothers would take the accounts of Easy Company of the 501st Parachute Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division from their time at boot camp at Camp Toccoa, Georgia through training in England and then the war zones of France, the Netherlands, Belgium and, finally, Germany itself. This series wasn’t about made up soldiers and heroes, but the real ones who survived over a year of constant battle that saw some acquit themselves bravely while others failing to measure up.
The series was a production that had everyone at the top of their game. One such person was Michael Kamen who would compose the series’ orchestral score. It would be one of the last compositions he would create before his death in 2003. Nothing helped set the tone for the series more than the opening theme which accompanied the opening credits for each of the ten episodes.
In honor of Memorial Day, it is this opening theme from Band of Brothers which is the “Song of the Day.”
When I was in college, I wrote a paper on Audie Murphy for history class. Murphy was a real American hero, the most decorated combat soldier of World War II. He held off an entire squad of German soldiers alone, armed with a machine gun and bleeding from a leg wound, under fire from both foot soldiers and tank fire. Then he rejoined his men and led an attack on the Germans, driving them back and earning the Medal of Honor for his valiant efforts.
Murphy was noticed by Hollywood upon his return from the war, and soon was cast in a successful series of Westerns: THE KID FROM TEXAS, KANSAS RAIDERS, DUEL AT SILVER CREEK, RED BADGE OF COURAGE, GUNSMOKE, and a remake of DESTRY. His autobiography TO HELL AND BACK was a national best seller, and Audie played himself in the film version. Surprisingly, Murphy only starred in one other war film…
As an illustrator, Gil Cohen has done work for several clients: The U.S. Information Agency, The National Park Service, Paramount Pictures, Bantam books, Harlequin Books, Random House, Holt Rinehart & Winston, Warner-Lambert, The U.S. Coast Guard, The National Guard Bureau, and Boeing & Sikorsky Aircraft Companies. However, he is best known for his aviation-themed paintings of World War II. His paintings are not only distinguished by his attention to historical and mechanical detail but also by their focus on the emotions of the men who flew the planes.
Below are 6 of Cohen’s pulp illustrations and 6 of his aviation paintings: