Editor’s Note: Seventy years after the end of WWII’s Battle of the Bulge, the VA sits down with Veterans who were there to listen to their stories. Living History is documentary-style web series where Veterans of different wars and generations discuss their experiences before, during and after war with each other. VA employee and Army Veteran Martin Taylor ran camera for the interview and shares his thoughts on meeting our Battle of the Bulge Veterans.
I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this project. I grew up idolizing the accomplishments and the bravery of these men through films and novels depicting the war. My grandparents and my wife’s grandparents were all greatly affected by the war, but they had always been very silent on the subject. I know that it’s taken a long time for these men to be comfortable talking about their experiences and I felt very privileged to be their audience.
The best part of the documentary for me wasn’t the discussion about the actual battle. I know that seems like an odd statement, but it was more important for me to know who these men were and why they chose to serve during such dangerous period in history. Hearing about their lives before and after the war adds size and scope to the sacrifices they made. I think it’s easy to forget that these men who wouldn’t accept defeat lived full lives after the war and became our fathers and grandfathers.
It was an uplifting experience to realize that I was also a part of the same organization as these great men, but more importantly I was surprised by how similar our experiences were. Some of them had grown up in small farming communities and saw the Army as a way out and ticket to excitement, a feeling I am very much familiar with having grown up in central Illinois. Their stories about transitioning from the military to civilian life were also poignant and were parallel to my experience.
These men truly represent to best our country has to offer. Their humility, pride in service, and the dignity they convey are an example for all veterans to strive for.
About the author: Martin Taylor is a U.S. Army Veteran who served from 2001 to 2010. He was deployed to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. He now works at VA.
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.