Over this Memorial Day weekend, my wife and I watched the HBO classic, Band of Brothers. It’s a powerful and realistic rendition of what the soldiers of Easy Company, 2/506th Parachute Infantry Regiment experienced during World War II.
It’s an outstanding memorial to all Americans who served and died in the war.
Though I detest the use of the Lord’s Name in vain, I recommend all young people see the series at least once. It’s a shame we have college students who don’t know what D-Day is and have no idea whatsoever of how everyday soldiers became everyday heroes in the midst of immense suffering.
I believe the most moving aspect of the series is at the beginning of the episodes where the actual veterans share their thoughts about the difficult things they endured. One veteran explained, “I did things. I didn’t do them for medals. I didn’t do them for accolades. I did them because that’s what had to be done.”
My favorite testimony occurs at the end when Dick Winters, who had been the heroic commander of Easy Company, summed up their efforts to defeat the Nazi war machine by relating a question asked by a grandson:
“Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?” Grandpa said, “No… but I served in a company of heroes.”
It gets me every time I watch it.
There are also spiritual lessons we can learn from Band of Brothers. In Episode 3, a young private named Blithe is terrified of combat. He has been overcome by a spirit of fear which puts his life and the lives of his comrades in jeopardy. A certain hard-charging, scary Lieutenant Speirs told him he hid in a ditch because he still had hope of saving himself.
With a deadpan expression, Speirs explains: “The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. The sooner you accept that the sooner you’ll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function… all war depends upon it.”
When a soldier adopts the mindset that his body is already dead, his focus is no longer on self. He is free to focus on helping his comrades fulfill the mission. In the same way, followers of Christ should consider their bodies dead in order to win the battle over sin.
In a spiritual sense, we have been crucified with Christ and therefore our old nature is dead. We are no longer slaves to the power of sin. Like good soldiers, we choose to consider our bodies dead to the fleshly desires that wage war against our souls.
* Petition: Dear Lord, help me to live as though my body is dead and unresponsive to the enemy’s temptations.