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"Will I Have the Courage?"

Warren "Skip" Muck at Camp Toccoa, GA
The nephew of an Easy Company paratrooper once asked Stephen Ambrose's theory on why he (the nephew) was so passionate about researching his deceased uncle's life. For anyone dedicated to researching WWII history, we ask ourselves the same thing. I just love Ambrose's response: 

 "All men ultimately want to know two things—'To whom do I owe thanks that I should live in such opportunity?' And, 'Will I have the courage when the time comes?'"
 —Stephen Ambrose 

One of the (many) books I'm reading right now is A Company of Heroes by Marcus Brotherton. (I grabbed the book because of the chapter on Skip Muck ... let's be honest here.) I really liked what Marcus Brotherton wrote in light of Ambrose's response, so I thought I'd share some excerpts. 

Answering Ambrose's questions can be difficult. Few of us today actually jump out of airplanes into combat, or undertake any of the large-scale events that traditionally produce heroes. Sometimes the questions only tick quietly in the back of our minds. We need to strain to hear their subtleties. 

My niece at the Currahee Military Museum
...We continually look to WWII for clues to the potential for our own heroics. We want to know if we've got the right stuff. We hope to live authentic lives that amount to something purposeful, and we're searching for examples that show us the way ... Hero is a concept that beckons us. Most of us today, if we are not military personnel or third world humanitarians, will never fight in conditions anywhere close to the terror of Bastonge. Still, we face battles that we hope matter. We take actions that we hope have significance.

Ambrose's questions mean most for us today when we remember that the soldiers who fought in battlefields of Normandy, Holland, and Bastonge, indeed gave much. And they gave it for a reason—so that we could live for what matters. The liberty that the Band of Brothers fought for was not a freedom to do whatever we want whenever we want, but rather a freedom from tyranny, a freedom of self-determination, a freedom to make something of our lives. 

The men of Easy Company were everyday guys, kids like those we grew up with, yet they reached beyond themselves and way beyond their home turf. Because they were ordinary men who chose to live extraordinarily, their examples inspire us to make deliberate decisions for right action. They invite us to be courageous in our own commitments, to provide security for our families, to be noble in our careers and communities, and to be engaged on a global front. 



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