It was the middle of the workday last fall when a colleague brought a gentleman to my office and introduced him to me as the past president of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. Retired U.S. Army Colonel Douglas Dillard sat down across from me and we spent some time chatting.
For as large as the military can be, I find that it can also be a small world. Douglas Dillard had fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, in Korea and Vietnam and retired as a colonel. So had my grandfather. He was Airborne and worked in intelligence. So did my husband.
Before Col. Dillard left that afternoon, I introduced him to some of the members of our team at work – younger Veterans who spent time in combat as well. After he left, the team talked about how we could share his stories, and their stories, with other Veterans. That’s how Living History got its start.
Living History: Battle of the Bulge is the first of what we hope will be a series of interviews with Veterans of all generations on their experiences. The Battle of the Bulge web series will be released in four parts – here on the Vantage Point blog, and VA’s social media channels, including YouTube and Facebook.
December 16, 2014, to January 25, 2015, was the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. For many of its Veterans, talking about what happened wasn’t something they did with anyone other than their battle buddies, if even then. By bringing together Veterans from the same conflict, we explore with them what happened – the bad and the good – that shaped the rest of their lives.
Our four Veterans in Living History: Battle of the Bulge met in November 2014 in the WWII History Room at Ft. Meade, Maryland. Surrounded by personal artifacts, uniforms and military memorabilia, they reminisced about their younger days and the brutality of the Ardennes campaign. It was an honor for me to guide the discussion that day, and it is an honor for me to introduce the first of four videos to you now.
Living History: Battle of the Bulge was produced with the assistance of The Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, a membership organization dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the sacrifices involved during the Battle of the Bulge. To learn more about the Battle of the Bulge, its living Veterans and preserving the history and memory of the battle, visit the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge website.
Special thanks to the band Carbon Leaf for allowing us to use their song “The War Was in Color” as the opening theme for Living History: Battle of the Bulge. Thanks, also, to Synthesis Production for the use of their footage from the December 2014 reenactment of the battle in Recogne, Belgium.