Some Thoughts on this Veterans Day

I had the opportunity to watch the movie FURY over the weekend. I went into it not knowing more than it was a World War II movie that my neighbor wanted to see. Within the first couple of minutes my interest was piqued. This historical fiction film focuses on a five man US tank crew who had been together since the North African campaign and were fighting against the Germans in April 1945. Why did that pique my interest? My great uncle Henry O. Stenberg lost his life in Germany on a US tank crew in April 1945, and had also been in North Africa (and a few other countries) before fighting in Germany. Wow, here was an opportunity for me to delve into what Henry's last days might have been like.

Obviously being born in the 1980s I never got to meet my great uncle Henry, but occasionally my grandfather who also fought in WWII would mention him to me with admiration and a tear in his eye. Our family recently discovered letters that both Henry and Grandpa sent home during their WWII years. Through the letters and visiting with others who knew him I learned he liked livestock, sports, good neighbors, the quite lifestyle of rural North Dakota and amusing his younger cousins by wiggling his ears. After answering the call of his country through the draft in 1941 and completing his training in the US, Henry was sent over to the North African and European Theaters and likely found his new situation the exact opposite of what he had grown to love in North Dakota.

The movie FURY portrays the war as it likely was—exceedingly ruthless, seemingly random, outrageously crude, and downright hellish. Yet hundreds of thousands of soldiers did their jobs, oftentimes with exceeding bravery. They didn’t act so much in their own self-interest, but rather in the interest of a larger community--our country and (as many would argue) the world. Oftentimes they found wounds (mental and physical) and even death as a result. We have a lot to learn from them and to be thankful for. 

On this Veterans Day we are encouraged to think of those who have served in our country's military. So, I’d like to close this post with a poem that Inga Melby (a neighbor and aunt of Henry’s) wrote and submitted to the local newspaper after hearing of Henry’s death. This is a part of the 6 BROTHERS documentary and this one minute long poem is read by Inga's daughter Thelma: