Motivational Posters: Band of Brothers Edition

by Brett & Kate McKay on May 29, 2011 · 43 comments

in A Man's Life, Motivational Posters

The story of the Band of Brothers, World War II’s Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, has in recent times been made famous by historian Stephen Ambrose’s book and the HBO miniseries which chronicled their legendary exploits.

The men of Easy Company were a highly elite group; they made it through the demanding training of Camp Toccoa (including endless runs 3 miles up and 3 miles down Georgia’s Currahee Mountain), parachuted into Normandy for D-Day and Holland for Operation Market Garden, fought the Germans and the freezing cold in the Battle of the Bulge, liberated concentration camps, and secured the Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s mountaintop retreat.

And yet these men never bragged about their service when they returned home. They simply got to work in building a life for themselves–enjoying their families, participating in their communities, and relishing the simple things in life.

Surviving members of the Band of Brothers will be the first to say that the attention given to their company is unfair, that there were plenty of other companies that were just as tough and courageous. It is simply that Easy Company has become a symbol, a representative of all the other men who gave valiant service in WWII.

Why do their stories fascinate and speak to us with such power? I think a letter written to Major Dick Winters illuminates the appeal of the Band of Brothers:

“Generals Eisenhower, Patton, and Montgomery, President Roosevelt, and Prime Minister Churchill were giants on a world stage. You and your men were different to me, though. You came from the cities, backgrounds, and places I came from. You had some of the same problems and situations. Your triumph was one of character more than ability or talent. I do not mean to imply that you or your men lacked talent and ability, but I could identify with your talents and abilities. I will never be able to speak like Churchill or have the ambition of Patton, but I can have the quiet determination of Easy Company. I can be a leader; I can be loyal; I can be a good comrade. These are the qualities that you and your men demonstrated under the harshest of conditions. Surely I can do the same in my normal life.”

Truly, these men can teach us much.

Once 16 million strong, there are now less than 2 million veterans of the Second World War still alive. And they are dying at a rate of 1,000 a day. Of the 366 men who at one point or another were part of WWII’s Easy Company (including originals, replacements, and transfers), only about 30 are still living today. 30.

Today we take a moment to listen to the voices of some of the men who made it back from the war, on a day when we remember and memorialize those who did not.

All quotes and photos, except those of Dick Winters, are taken from the following books by Marcus Brotherton (which I highly recommend reading) and used with permission.

Shifty’s War: The Authorized Biography of Sergeant Darrell “Shifty” Powers, the Legendary Sharpshooter from the Band of Brothers

Call of Duty: My Life Before, During and After the Band of Brothers

We Who Are Alive and Remain: Untold Stories from the Band of Brothers

A Company of Heroes

A big thanks to Marcus Brotherton for his help with this post, his support of the Art of Manliness, and his dedication to chronicling the stories of the Band of Brothers while they’re still with us.



Check out all the motivational posters from AoM: 

Theodore Roosevelt Edition
George S. Patton Edition
Ernest Hemingway Edition
Winston Churchill Edition (Part I)
Winston Churchill Edition (Part II)
Black History Month Edition
Bear Bryant Edition
Founding Fathers Edition
Band of Brothers Edition
Business Posters from the 1920s and 1930s

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Timothy Lewis May 29, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Is there any chance we could get all of these photos in a zip or .rar file?

Dick Winters is one of my heroes and I have always had a thing for easy company, these posters really capture what they meant to me.

2 Lee May 29, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Extremely inspirational. Truly puts my trials and tribulations into perspective. Thanks for putting in the effort. I love the font you chose. And the quotes are humbling.

3 Tom Samulak May 29, 2011 at 9:23 pm

I sure would like these in big posters to put on the wall. Good stuff. Thanks

4 Frank Gucciardo May 29, 2011 at 9:54 pm

If these were available for purchase…some of them would be framed and hung in the office for sure! Any chance of it happening…..?

5 Phil May 29, 2011 at 11:12 pm

I’d like to print these out and put them up around the shop. I work aircraft maintenance in the USAF for special ops, and the kids we get in fresh from tech school love to bitch and complain about everything from not getting time to eat to it being too cold to work. They don’t seem to understand that they have a job to do. Just because they haven’t had a chance to get lunch today, or it’s Friday or they’re working a weekend, doesn’t give them a excuse to half-ass their job and do God-knows-what to the airplanes or the crews flying them.

6 Chuck May 30, 2011 at 12:53 am

My grandad was a medic in the 506th with these men, from Market Garden to Brechtesgarden… You are all heroes to me.

7 Brett McKay May 30, 2011 at 1:34 am

The photos were given to Marcus Brotherton by the families of the men featured to only be used with permission, so we can’t distribute the photos or sell the posters–sorry.

8 Rob Stark May 30, 2011 at 3:05 am

I’m a friend of Buck Compton’s and I’ve heard these words come straight from his mouth. A more inspirational man there will never be in my life. Thanks for these!

9 Chis May 30, 2011 at 5:23 am

What a truly incredible group of men! As we celebrate Memorial day let’s all remember the sacrifice that our military men and women go through every day for our country.

10 Tom May 30, 2011 at 5:37 am

This has to be the best thing on the internet ever, I mean anywhere ever. Respect to all those blokes. If only the world was full of guys like that.

11 chris seiter May 30, 2011 at 6:28 am

The 2nd to last one by Mr Compton struck a cord with me. Ever since I lost my daughter everything is compared to that, even other people’s problems and I’ve lost all empathy. To not be numb would take more character than I’ve been able to muster.

12 Hallee the Homemaker May 30, 2011 at 6:37 am

As the wife of a 101st veteran from the first Gulf War, Band of Brothers is one of my husband and my favorite productions ever. We watch it annually, never forgetting that greatest generation.

This post was amazing. Thank you.

Hallee

13 Steve May 30, 2011 at 7:07 am

Thank you.

14 David Y May 30, 2011 at 7:51 am

Thank you to all the men and women past and present who have served to defend our freedom.

15 Pannabecker May 30, 2011 at 8:10 am

Just wanted to say, I visited the sight where these men fought. The reason is I was in their unit only…50 years after them and training with the Belgians. I was touring where the Bastards of Bastogne were…On Memorial day as I sit here in Afghanistan….I think back on what I learned from them…All I can say is THANK YOU….
SGT Pannabecker (Vet) 101st ABN 2-327 INF Bastogne Bulldogs

16 Michele May 30, 2011 at 8:28 am

Guaranteed to stop whining in its tracks.

17 Nightmare May 30, 2011 at 10:08 am

Great Manly Posters! I would like to add a link to one more source of Band of Brothers reference material…Over the last year I have had the pleasure of interviewing most of the cast of Band of Brothers and we had a great time talking about the men they portrayed, the adventure of shooting and working with Hanks and Speilberg, as well as how they have created their own brotherhood who still gets together for a BBQ every year for the last 11 years. You can hear these interviews edited down for time and content at http://www.bandofbrotherswherearetheynow.blogspot.com Or you can join the YOU PEOPLE network on Blackskyradio.com and hear them all uncut, in their entirety. And yes, we did have the pleasure of talking to Marcus Brotherton, and you can hear that interview both places too.

18 Oyaji May 30, 2011 at 10:18 am

My first Platoon Sergeant jumped into Normandy with the 101st Airborne Division 3 days after his 17th Birthday, Hell, at 17 years old, I couldn’t even find my ass with a flashlight. Showed me how to soldier, kept me alive and was a dear friend for many years before he passed. No matter how tough things got, he would always say, “At least I am not at Bastogne.”

19 Ari May 30, 2011 at 8:35 pm
20 Ev May 30, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Why can’t I quit you AoM? The blog is truely wonderful.

21 Wes May 31, 2011 at 8:06 am

The best post to wake up to!

22 Salty May 31, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Love what you are doing here. These qualities seem to be falling by the wayside of arrogance and gluttony these days.

23 Anne Brock May 31, 2011 at 12:34 pm

My father was Lloyd D. Guy who was a proud member of this elite group of men in the 101 st during World War ll …
I really enjoyed seeing and reading this article ..
Thank you ,
Anne Brock

24 steve May 31, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Is war manly? I think the Jimmy Steward character in Shenandoah was good ideal of manliness.

25 Jared May 31, 2011 at 7:28 pm

you are missing the point Steve, it is not the war that made them men, it is their character. Maybe you should read the article again.

26 Chris June 1, 2011 at 1:36 am

@ Pannabecker. THANK YOU. I am not in Afghanistan right now and I will most likely never be there. I am freely and safely living in America. So thank you.

27 Clarence June 1, 2011 at 1:48 am

Of course the ironic thing is that Jimmy Stewart, the man, not a character, volunteered for the Air Force during WWII and was a bomber pilot, and was a huge advocate for military service and the AF.

Anyway….awesome post! Just emailed it to all my friends and family.

28 Bill June 1, 2011 at 10:57 am

There is a museum dedicated to these guys in Toccoa GA now. They hold a reunion every October. They have a lot of memorabilia, even the stables that the 506th stayed in when in England, before D-Day. When they were dismantling it, they found a letter from one of the guys in the wall.

29 Jim McGowan June 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm

I had the honor of commanding Echo Company 2/506th in Viet Nam in 1969.

30 matthew June 1, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Men of my generation (late 30s) and the generations since have rarely, if ever, had to genuinely sacrifice for the liberty we enjoy. Thank you for this post to remind us of what character and loyalty to a country requires and what it looks like.

31 Helenann June 2, 2011 at 10:17 am

Damn if this didn’t make me tear up…
May I please print a few and hang them up in my classroom?
Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you! Because of you, I can (as a single woman) go to a job I love, worship in a church of my choice, go to whatever restaurant I choose, date whom I like, and speak how I feel. I am raising my daughter to appreciate these things….far too often in this world, there aren’t even choices. Her daddy was Air Force, and we always speak respectfully about him.

32 CJ June 2, 2011 at 10:29 pm

What shining examples of character. How sad parents aren’t raising young men
(or women) anymore to uphold these ideals, whether as soldier or civilian.

33 JG June 3, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Lost another today with the passing of James Arness, “Marshall Dillon” was the first on the beach at Battle of Anzio.

34 Allen Leddon June 3, 2011 at 11:18 pm

to Steve: “Is war Manly?”
Robert E. Lee, watching the spectacle of thousands of Union soldier forming up for a hopless assault on his positon, is reported to have remarked that “It is well that war is so horrible, or else we would grow too fond of it.”
War is not manly. But war brings out the best and worst in men. Stories of heroics and willing self-sacrifice abound in war-time. Our ability to organize, strive, and acheive are all heightened during war. It is often the wish of leaders in peace-time to find the kind of committment in citizens that the soldier and sailor shows in war. Against the backdrop of war and horror, acts of generosity, kindness and courage shine like a beacon in the night. I have often wondered if the acts of people like Alvin York, or Audie Murphy, or Clara Barton, or Oskar Schendler are the reasons a loving God permits war to continue. I know that many people behave with courage and perserverance in peace time to uphold the law or feed the poor, but in war, the manly virtues are illuminated with the light of rightousness more brightly than at any other time.

35 HermanTurnip June 7, 2011 at 1:19 am

Being a (much younger) veteran, it brings a tear to my eyes reading this post. These soldiers are prime examples of the greatest generation. Here’s a crisp salute and a tip of the beer mug to the sort of men that we should all look up to.

36 Xlar June 13, 2011 at 11:43 am

Epic :)

37 Remy June 16, 2011 at 5:21 am

It get goosebumps looking at the photos. When I was younger I thought a lot about the fact that so few veterans were still alive. My Grandfather had served in the Korean War with the Americans. It was only on his deathbed that he started telling about these stories. It really makes you want to document every veteran’s story for generations to come.

Coming from Holland we owe a lot to the Allied forces and we still celebrate it every year. Too bad much of the youth has forgotten about it though…A real shame but I tend to focus more on the actions of these heros than other ignorant people.

38 SSGBob June 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm

When I was in Ramadi, Iraq (2005-2006) I lived the most truthful statement about combat ever said (and it was in Band of Brothers). When Lt. Spiers told Pvt. Blight “you have to accept the fact that your already dead. Only then can you perform like a soldier’s supposed to…”

39 InterWeb Golem June 22, 2011 at 3:06 am

@ Brett McKay:

You noted: “Brett McKay May 30, 2011 at 1:34 am — The photos were given to Marcus Brotherton by the families of the men featured to only be used with permission, so we can’t distribute the photos or sell the posters–sorry.”

Is there no possible way you can arrange for that permission for use through a create-on-demand service like Cafe Press? I have considered “motivational” posters of this sort to be superficial beyond belief, but this series inspires me. Vehicles such as Cafe Press can be used to provide a stream of income to worthy causes. At the very least, I will print and frame these at letter paper size for regular display.

Thanks for making this all available.

Golem, USAF 1971-1975

40 Diocletian June 24, 2011 at 10:23 am

My father served in the Pacific Theatre in WW II aboard the USS Minneapolis during the Battle of Surigao Strait, one of the battles that comprised the Battle for Leyte Gulf, Philippines.

He never wanted to describe his experience except to say that he wasn’t so scared in his life; nevertheless, he kept his cool at his station as a gunner’s assistant, feeding shells into the gun during the heat of the engagement with the Japanese fleet. He stayed at his post even after he was struck by a hot casing as it was ejected from the gun. He overcame the fear by maintaining his focus on his assigned task. This battle took place in the middle of the night (around 2am), with the only illumination being that produced by the explosive flashes of the American and Japanes guns confronting each other with murderous intent over the dark waters of the Strait.

His fear was an expression of his humanity; his courage (an exclusively human virtue) was an expression of his resoluteness toward what he valued, what was worth fighting for–his life and freedom. That resoluteness enabled him to overcome the fear, and in so doing, achieve–in that moment and many times during his life thereafter–something of that to which Aristotle referred as “eudaimoneia”, or success as a human being.

The men of Easy Company achieved that success as well.

41 Ken October 19, 2012 at 10:24 am

It is our duty to never forget them and do what we can to ensure other don’t. It is wholly inadequate in comparison, but it’s the least we can do.

42 Erin October 19, 2012 at 11:11 am

I love these guys. I’m reading Stephen Ambrose’s book Band of Brothers right now. I wish there were more men like them in my generation! So, less than thirty are still alive…? Does anyone know what states they live in? I would love to visit any one of them, even of they aren’t coherent enough to tell me stories. I love WWII vets. Don’t get me wrong, I love all veterans (my daddy is a vet), but WWII vets have a special place in my heart. Great men & women.

43 Joe Vera May 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm

I hid behind my large computer monitor as I read this piece. It was tough to read. My father was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge. It was not until my son was about 16 that he spoke of the war. My son, now 28, knows of these great men and the service our military provides us. I pray others keep the memories of these men and all our military men and women alive through their children.

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