“Band of Brothers,” a 2001 ten-part miniseries based on the book of the same name, follows a group of WWII paratroopers, E Company (“Easy Company”), through basic training, the D-Day invasion at Normandy, into occupied France and finally into Germany. Author Stephen Ambrose based his narrative on interviews with Easy Company veterans.
In the ninth episode, “Why We Fight,” the soldiers encounter a whole new realm of evil. It’s April 1945, the war in Europe is all but over, and the men of Easy Company are stationed in the German town of Landsberg awaiting orders. One day a few of them venture out to explore the area. They emerge from a forest, and before them stands a high barbed wire fence with a locked gate. Behind it are hundreds, perhaps thousands of dazed, emaciated, starving prisoners.
The men of Easy Company have seen fierce battle, but this is a horror of an altogether different kind, and they are speechless.
After they set about meeting the prisoners’ basic needs, like food, water, and medical attention, they force the townspeople from Landsberg out to the camp to make them look, straight on, at the human atrocity which has been taking place in their own back yard and presumably with their complicity.
This scene came to my mind the other day as I stood and prayed, quietly, outside a Planned Parenthood clinic. It was Day 1 of 40 Days for Life.