In the early morning of December 16, 1944, the German Army launched a vicious artillery strike on American positions in the Ardennes region of Belgium. What ensued was the Battle of the Bulge, the last offensive of Hitler’s Army and the single deadliest battle the Americans fought in the entire war. The Allies, undermanned and lacking adequate winter gear, fought under harsh conditions through the thick forests and repelled an attack many throughout the world thought would succeed. The 101st Airborne Division was encircled in Bastogne and, facing an imminent attack, was asked to surrender by the commanding German officer. The commander of the 101st, General Anthony Clement McAuliffe, had only a one word reply: “Nuts!”
The Battle of the Bulge was eventually declared an Allied victory, paving the way to Germany’s surrender the following spring. 66 years later, the major elements that held Bastogne are once again deployed to fulfill the country’s foreign policy objectives, this time in Afghanistan. Just as they did then, young Americans are in the fight against a determined enemy over the holiday season. Remember their sacrifice–past, present and future–as you gather with loved ones this time of year.