Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tribute to a Veteran

My younger son has a teddy bear.

A gift from his grandmother several years ago, my son has treasured that bear ever since wrapping his arms around that Christmastime. He has given the bear various nicknames over the years: Bear-y, Jaws, a few others. However, he recently gave it a new nickname: Blithe

For those of you unfamiliar with book/movie series Band of Brothers, (Albert) Blithe was a private in Easy Company, the most decorated paratroopers in WWII. He parachuted into Normandy in D-Day. He won numerous awards for his gallantry. 

 Albert Blithe at Toccoa, Georgia (1942). Photo Source: Wikipedia

He was also injured in Carentan, France. In the movie, Blithe is shot in the neck and, though, he survives the war, eventually dies of his injuries in 1948. It is for this wound that the bear was renamed. My son discovered that his beloved bear had a hole in his neck and wrapped him up in bandages. My wife eventually performed surgery on the bear and the bear seems fine. However, my son worries that the bear may have fewer days in front of him.

This week, though, I discovered news that will hearten my son. With regards to Albert Blithe, the movie was wrong. He was shot in the shoulder, not the neck. And, though the wound was severe enough to get him sent home, he became a career serviceman, leaving the army twice and re-enlisting twice. He served in post-war Korea, eventually attained the rank of Master Sergeant, and died while still in the military in late 1967.

Despite this inaccuracy and some others, the Band of Brothers series is still great cinema. I sometimes question the wisdom of letting my son watch certain things. He enjoys history and, when he was younger, used to have me read to him from books such as David McCullough’s John Adams. Now my son gravitates to war pictures and I indulge it for I love history as well and used to watch such movies while I was growing up. The movies are violent for my son’s age.

Still, when I see him pay tribute to heroes, I know that he’s picking up some of the things that he should.

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