Band of Brothers Authentically Depicts Veteran Bravery
Veteran's Day is a federal holiday of the utmost importance, honoring those who have fought for our freedom.
Roughly 61% of Americans have an immediate family member who has served in the military, and mine is not one of those families. I can't imagine the strength and sacrifice of service members and their families.
Without personal experience, I normally watch something in honor of the holiday. However, I have never been very interested in violence and dangerous depictions of war on television. I tend to avoid war movies or shows concerned about seeing something more gruesome than I'm prepared for, but I made an exception for Band of Brothers.
Band of Brothers is a miniseries that premiered in 2001 following Easy Company, a part of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment), assigned to the United States Army's 101st Airborne Division during World War II. The ten-episode series follows the soldiers through training and the tumultuous missions they endured to the war's end.
Unlike my usual binging tendencies, the content of this show was so tough for me I could only watch a single episode at a time. It took me months to finish the show because I had to emotionally process what I watched each time.
Although producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks took some creative liberties with the story, it is mainly based on fact. Knowing that the events on the show happened to real people made me feel like I was watching a documentary instead of a series. I couldn't take my mind off the reality of it all when watching. This is especially true in the episode where they discover a concentration camp for the first time; it almost brought me to tears.
Even with my initial adverse reaction to seeing such gruesome and devastating actions, I couldn't turn away. The show was so immensely captivating. Even when I couldn't completely identify the characters because they were all clean-shaven white men covered in dirt wearing the same uniform, I empathized with them individually. Similar to the characters, I became accustomed to watching the atrocities of war. Of course, they were actors watching special effects, and I was on my couch watching them behind a screen, so it's not the same, but that feeling helped me empathize with the characters. Watching them grow and work through their trauma was humbling in a way that would've been as jarring if I didn't know these people were real.
I initially anticipated something akin to a Hollywood action movie, but I was refreshingly surprised. Throughout the series, there are lulls. In any other series, a pause may be construed as boring, but in Band of Brothers, it provides refreshment and hope. Listening to the playful banter between the soldiers, even amid life-threatening situations, highlighted the unbreakable humanity even in the worst conditions. There were comedic moments alongside the moments that tugged on your heartstrings.
Band of Brothers was initially hard to watch because of how rooted it was in reality, but that same truth made the challenging subject matter bearable and entertaining. The explosions and the deaths didn't get easier to watch as I grew more attached to the characters, but seeing them persevere, hope, and their incredible acts of bravery made me root for them.
Realizing that real people performed these incredible acts is terrifying and empowering. I may have needed a tv show to remind me of the tremendous strength soldiers possess, but veterans and members of military families have these qualities so ingrained into their livelihoods that there is no way to forget them. For others like me, Veterans Day should remind everyone to appreciate all the men and women who have fought perilously for our freedom.