Friday, June 10, 2011

Emails #54: Most Of These Men Won't Make It

SUPER: D-Day - Normandy, France

I want you to speak to the troops son.

I've never given a speech before.

Odds are that most of these men won't make it. For those that do,
I want you to remind them why they are here. Just tell them what you told me
last night. I have a feeling you'll be a natural.

I'll give it my best, Captain.

These men are counting on you...

Captain M. L. Phelps, Ret.
Captain America and a World at War
Documentary Interview

Weather and enemy guns had turned the parachute drops into a massacre. We found ourselves huddled in a farmhouse wine cellar behind the lines in France. We were rattled awake by the thunder of German tanks and the parade of infantry boots streaming by on the narrow road outside. We had found ourselves pinned down and ferociously outnumbered. It was only a matter of time before our location was scouted for supplies. We waited in silence for the enemy to find us. Each of us in that small group knew that every breath could be our last. Abruptly we heard the sound of doors being kicked in upstairs and glass breaking. This was it. We all lost hope that we would make it out alive...

That was when something miraculous happened. The crashing noises from the search became loud yelling and gunfire. We could hear the sounds of bullets pinging metal and bones breaking. The stone walls of our hideout seemed to shake and before we knew it, there was dead silence. The distinct sound of a single set of boots carried from upstairs. Our guns pointed at the door not knowing what to expect. The door swung open and there in the settling dust and half light stood a man, a giant. I never got a completely good look at him.

"Don't shoot. I'm Captain America. The coast is clear boys and your country needs you. Let's go." That voice brimmed with confidence and command. I went to rub the dust out of my eyes and he was gone.

I got into a lot of close calls after that. Lost a lot of buddies along the way. I never forgot that night at the farmhouse, how scared I was and how trapped and alone I felt so far from home. Cap gave me hope. Coming close to his fighting spirit had somehow ignited something inside me. His simple words, "your country needs you" reminded me why I was there. Why all of us were there. I prayed every night after that hoping I would see him again but I never did. Sure I heard things here and there. Cap was becoming a legend, lifting our forces with acts of bravery and courage that inspired us all during dark times.

Sometimes I look back and wonder if it happened at all, if it wasn't some sort of dream. Everyone I knew from that day has since passed on. Many refused to talk about their experiences in the war because they were too painful. I don't blame them one bit. When you think that life couldn't be more horrible, greater atrocities reared their head. The loss of life and the ghastly toll in human suffering was beyond comprehension. Was Cap real? Was my mind playing tricks on me? I know the truth and it has guided me many times over the years...

BEN: I tell you man, these anecdotes are inspiring. Makes me think we should "shoot around" Cap in some shorts. Simple retellings/reinactments of events in the war where the silhouette or blur of Cap is all we see...

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