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Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Sad News: Major Richard (Dick) Winters dies, aged 92.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12158637

This makes me very sad, not just because I am always sad to see the living links with the titanic events of 1939-45 gradually passing on, but because Dick Winters seems to have been not only a very brave and skilful soldier but a gentle, humane and intelligent man.  Like one of the people who commented on this BBC piece, I'd somehow hoped he'd always be there.

There's been much comment on the web about appreciating what we owe to Winters and his fellows.  It'd be nice to think that that was more than empty rhetoric as the USA and UK are so busily throwing it all away.  We do, of course, owe him and his comrades a huge amount, but to me that still somehow sells him short.  He was a skilful battlefield soldier, no doubt, and he did more than the average 'bit' to defeat Nazism but I think that what matters to me, to judge from seeing him interviewed on the Band of Brothers DVDs and to see his career depicted in those programmes and the Stephen Ambrose's book, is the way he did this, not tactically, but morally, as a human being.  A lot of very bad things were done, not always by bad people, in the cause of defeating Nazism.  To me Richard Winters seems to be raised above any of that sort of tarnishing of what Eisenhower called the Great Crusade. We now have to think twice about using the word Crusade (and not just thanks to George W. Bush and his cohorts) and, at the end of the day, probably rightly so but if, just for a minute, we can take those words purely in the sense that Eisenhower and the people who read and listened to him in 1944 meant them, as a campaign against evil and to make the world a beter place, then Dick Winters was a Great Crusader.

He struck me as the sort of person whom you'd be honoured even to meet, let alone to serve with or to count as a friend.  I do hope his memory and legacy are properly appreciated.

1 comment:

  1. I was also saddened to hear of his passing...especially since it seemed like it was largely overlooked by most media sources (I think I became aware of it only thanks to the Economist obituaries).

    A few months ago I helped a cousin write a paper for school on Winters, separating the 'man from the fiction', but to be honest the more I read, the more I actually believed he really was a living legend.

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