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Opponents, Not Enemies

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The History Channel re-ran the 10-episode HBO mini-series "Band of Brothers" over the weekend.

"Band of Brothers" is based upon the book by historian Stephen F. Ambrose which follows the path of E (Easy) Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division in the European Theater during World War II. The central character is Dick Winter who starts as a 2nd Lt. and ends the war as a Major.

The book (and series) begins with Easy Company's training and follows them through their parachuting behind enemy lines on D-Day through Market Garden, Bastogne, and ending the war at Hitler's aerie, Berchtesgaden.

The mini-series was co-produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks following their successful collaboration in the feature film "Saving Private Ryan" (Pvt. James Ryan, by the way, was also a trooper in the 101st Airborne Division).

The kids of Easy Company were from places like Brooklyn, New York as well as Kerrville, Texas and Kerrville, Kentucky. Most of them had never been out of their towns or neighborhoods before they parachuted into Europe.

They may not have been exactly sure what the war was all about, but they had a sense of duty and they did it.

Watching this series again struck me this particular weekend because we, in the US, are in such a froth about the primary elections which will lead to nominees for President in the Republican and Democratic Parties.

I was struck by the ease with which we, sitting in comfortable chairs in our offices and dens and kitchens, are so willing to fire off vile and nasty e-mails to each other claiming our candidate is the only true heir to the Presidency and any other - either of our Party or another - is worthy only of contempt.

The children of Easy Company - and all the Easy Companies in all the wars which have followed - didn't have the luxury of sending nasty grams.

They had to fight their way through the Battle of the Bulge (Europe), through Inchon (Korea), through Khe Sanh (Viet Nam), Medina Ridge (Iraq), and the drive through to Baghdad (Iraq again).

As the level of linguistic venom continues to rise over the next nine months we should keep in mind - not in the back of our minds, but front and center - the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have given their lives for the specific purpose of allowing the rest of us to engage in the uniquely American activity known as … Democracy.

I was going to write, today, about the problems the Democrats are likely to face going into their convention in Denver in August facing the real possibility that their unelected "super delegates" will wrest the nomination from Barack Obama and hand it to Hillary Clinton.

I may do that for Wednesday.

But, watching the "Band of Brothers" reminded me that there is a higher calling to which we Americans must answer. That there is a greater purpose to which we should rise. That there is a deeper reason for the creation of the United States of America than 30-second ads and 150-word blogs.

I am not suggesting that choosing who will lead our nation over the next four years is not important. It is very important. But our nation will survive no matter what choice the majority makes.

Our nation will survive because of the all of the Bands of Brothers who have fought for our nation since April 19, 1775 - before we were a nation - as the Battles of Lexington and Concord started us on the path we have followed for the ensuing 233 years.

When you feel the need to send an e-mail, or hector a colleague, or get into a shouting match at Starbucks with someone who doesn't agree with you politically, keep in mind how the mini-series "Band of Brother" ended.

It ended with the real Dick Winter recounting a story another member of Easy Company had told him. This man's grandson had asked him, "Were you a hero during the war?"

His answer was, "No, but I served with heroes."

Keep that in mind.

We are political opponents. Not enemies. An enemy is something else altogether.

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