Ok, I’m 10 years late jumping on the bandwagon. I recently watched the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers” for the first time, and liked it so much that I promptly began watching it again.
Halfway through my second viewing, I’m pausing to wonder what exactly I love so much about it. I’ve watched movies about World War II before and I’ve read some books and visited museums. So how does “Band of Brothers” have this grip on me? Other than the swooning crush I’ve developed on the leading man?
I think the title of the series says a lot. Throughout the course of the 10 episodes, you see a group of volunteer soldiers endure the rigors of basic training and beyond, fighting together until they reach the end of the war. Different individuals move in and out of the spotlight, but always in that spotlight there remains the fact that through their experiences, the soldiers become an undeniable family.
War I’m sure builds bonds between people that, short of actual blood relation, are pretty unparalleled. But surrogate families are everywhere, in every degree of situation – maybe they don’t arise from repeated life and death situations, but that doesn’t mean we should scoff at them.
Sports teams pop immediately to mind here. I think of running especially (no surprise) but that close-knit camaraderie exists on all kinds of teams where you have athletes sweating, hurting, muttering thinly-veiled expletives at the coach, and generally seeing each other at their best and worst for years at a time. There are exchanges that happen in locker rooms, practice fields, and race courses that couldn’t — and probably shouldn’t, for the sake of decency, legality, etc. — take place anywhere else. The friendships forged in these places and situations, even if they last only as long as you’re on the team, are tough to kick from memory. Is it any wonder those guys in “Band of Brothers” were so close after having to run up that mountain (“Three miles up! Three miles down!”) time after time, always together, during basic training?
It’s not just the physical discomfort of sports that builds bonds. Living in a town miles away from any direct relatives, I’ve come to appreciate my “honorary” families. My co-workers and I have shared office space for four years now; they’ve seen me grumpy and goofy and every other kind of mood; they have been the willing guinea pigs for many cooking experiments, and bless their hearts they have the manners never to complain about that. We’ve shared some stressful bits of whirling chaos, and I feel about as close to them as I’ve ever felt with any group.
And friendships outside of work? They’re the ones that I think keep me sane. These lovely people invite me over for Thanksgiving, help me file my taxes, invite me to birthday parties and church and yard-plantings, and call to check up on me when they know I’m in the midst of a rough patch. Like any good family, they’re supportive, and perfectly willing to provide swift (gentle) kicks on the rump when necessary.
So, thank you to all my “bands of siblings.” Luckily, I probably won’t have to huddle in a foxhole anytime soon, but I would share one with you guys any day.
P.S. Happy Memorial Day! Especially to all you veterans out there.