"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Coldest Winter in a Century - The Battle of the Bulge Begins, December 16, 1944

Sixty-seven years ago today, on December 16, 1944, during what was the coldest winter of the 20th century, the Germany Army attacked through the Ardennes against an American Army that had, to some extent (but not enough), run out of steam after a lightning surge across France and Belgium after the Normandy landings in June 1944, and during the horrific battle of the Hurtgen Forest in October and November.   The salient that the Germany Army pushed into the American lines became known as the Battle of the Bulge, and the heroics of American troops (notably the 101st Airborne at Bastogne) became the stuff of legends.   One of the stories that deserves to have a movie made of it is the story of
Lyle Bouck (the father of a boyhood baseball teammate of mine), a 20 year-old lieutenant from St. Louis, whose platoon held off an entire German battalion of more than 500 men for nearly an entire day, delaying the German advance in a vital sector of the northern front.   It's been memorialized in a good book, The Longest Winter.   Author Alex Kershaw said, "Had they not stood and held the Germans and halted their attack, or rather postponed it for a crucial 24 hours, the Battle of the Bulge would have been a great German victory."

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