Friday, November 21, 2008

A Brother responds to a pacifist

In his Band of Brothers, Stephen Ambrose relates the aftermath of World War II for many of the men of Easy Company. One was Cpl. Walter Gordon, who, after parachuting into Holland near the town of Eindhoven in the infamous "bridge too far" Operation Market Garden, had been shot and paralyzed in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge (he eventually made a full recovery). A incident the book describes, from long after the war's end, made me chuckle:

In December, 1991, Gordon saw a story in the Gulfport Sun Herald. It related that mayor Jan Ritsema of Eindhoven, Holland, had refused to meet General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, because the commander of the UN forces in the Gulf War had "too much blood on his hands." Ritsema said of Schwarzkopf, "He is the person who devised the most efficient way to kill as many people as possible."

Gordon wrote to Mayor Ritsema: "On September 17, 1944, I participated in the large airborne operation which was conducted to liberate your country. As a member of company E, 506th PIR, I landed near the small town of Son. The following day we moved south and liberated Eindhoven. While carrying out our assignment, we suffered casualties. That is war talk for bleeding. ... In spite of the adverse conditions, we held the ground we had fought so hard to capture.

"The citizens of Holland at that time did not share your aversion to bloodshed when the blood being shed was that of the German occupiers of your city. How soon we forget. History has proven more than once that Holland could again be conquered if your neighbors, the Germans, are having a dull weekend and the golf links are crowded.

"Please don't allow your country to be swallowed up by Liechtenstein or the Vatican, as I don't plan to return. As of now, you are on your own."