Sunday, December 9, 2012
Bone, Chilling Cold...
A cold, wet, blustery early evening here in the "Great Lakes North Country" of the United States. Fireplace going, candles lit...it is a night even the Restless ME doesn't mind hunkering down and burrowing in for the night.
It's nights like these that I think of the 101st Airborne and others in the Ardennes Forest in 1944 (Battle Of The Bulge) during World War II or the fellows of the First Marine Division and others at the Chosin Reservoir in 1950 during the Korean War.
Those guys spent weeks on end outside in frigid, snowy conditions, often...in foxholes that had to be blasted out of the frozen ground. Most of their time was spent in the very front lines, constantly being shelled or under small arms fire. In both cases at Bastogne in the Bulge and at the Chosin, the men were surrounded. Both situations looked hopeless from the very start...
I think most of us who grew up in the north, have spent too long outside sledding or playing football in the snow and felt so cold/wet that we would never thaw. That doesn't come close to the bone numbing cold experienced by these guys....outside, exposed to wet, frigid wintry conditions for weeks at a time. The men's feet literally froze and turned black from Trench Foot...most of the time when that happened, men lost those feet, there was nothing else to do but amputate them.
I cannot even begin to imagine how they must have felt. Some were but teenagers...and were very far from home, scared to death with little hope for relief or survival. They were fighting an enemy that was well trained and determined to kill them. It was the ultimate test of endurance and character. Somehow they persevered.
I don't know why I tend to let my mind wander and end up thinking about them at times like these but I always have. At some point a man's will to live is put to the ultimate test....and certainly for these men this was it.
So I close with thoughts of all the American Soldiers who have spent nights like this out on Patrol in No Man's Land, Perimeter Watch in some frozen water filled fox-hole or hunkered down in a fire-fight on some ridge line in the mountains of Afghanistan. I'm thinking of all of you tonight....Thank You....God Speed and God Bless!