NUTS! Why Remembering Christmas 1944 Can Change Your Life

by Marcus Brotherton on December 18, 2012 · 107 comments

in A Man's Life

Last Monday I crapped in a plastic bag.

There is no nice way to say that. No genteel or sanitized way to describe the experience.

I’d just started taking a new medicine to combat a spastic colon, which I’ve battled on and off for ten years. The medicine promised to do remarkable things.

Instead, it made my condition worse.

En route to an appointment, I was gripped with a sudden, urgent, and uncontrollable need to use the can. There were no exits from the freeway on that stretch of road, no public restrooms or gas stations for miles in any direction. I wasn’t going to make it. So I did the only thing I could think of. I pulled onto the shoulder, set my hazard lights, and did what needed to be done.

I tell that story for a reason.

In this day and age of Facebook personalities, it’s easy to start believing another person’s life is as problem-free as described in an online bio. In my case, I’m a New York Times bestselling author. I’ve got a master’s degree. I’ve got a great wife and family and have travelled all over the world. If you know me only by my bio, then I’m an enviable man.

But here’s the fuller version of the truth. There’s one tiny area of life—in my case, a medical weakness—that I can’t seem to conquer no matter how hard I try.

I bet that you, in your most honest moments, could say something similar about yourself. You’re a capable and confident man. Still, there’s one area of your life where you’re hurting or weak, where you lack control, or can’t seem to overcome. Even Superman had his kryptonite. Achilles had his heel.

Maybe it’s a broken relationship. Or an incident of grief or illness or financial trouble. Maybe you’re grappling with anger or meaninglessness or hopelessness or you’re suffering from an addiction or you’re depressed or tired or you can’t get a job, or you work too hard and get paid far less than you’re worth. Maybe you’re simply stressed out and need a break.

Here’s hope. When I pulled off the road last Monday, I was genuinely miserable. I was sweating and cursing, and feeling embarrassed, and worried that a motorcycle cop was going to come along and ask me what I was doing. I was hating my life.

But in that moment, one word flashed through my mind. It’s a word weighted with determination, and it reminded me not to give up, no matter what life threw at me.


Here’s the story behind the word.

In late November 1944, Allied soldiers were charged with holding the line at a small Belgian town called Bastogne. Word flew in that Hitler was pushing hard and fast, making a last-ditch effort to swing the tide of the war back in his favor. Bastogne proved strategic due to seven crossroads that snaked through the town, roads vital in the transport of troops and ammunition.

If Hitler controlled Bastogne, he would win the war.

The Allied soldiers were rushed up to Bastogne in trucks. They hiked out into the forest in the mud and freezing rain, made a perimeter around the town, dug foxholes, and waited. Food, winter clothing, medical supplies, and ammunition were scarce. Some men didn’t even have boots. They wrapped their feet in burlap bags to stay warm.

The enemy made a larger ring around the Allied troops, dug in, and also waited. Snow began to fall. The temperature plummeted. It became Belgium’s coldest winter in 30 years. The Allied soldiers guarding Bastogne were surrounded.

Then the shelling began. Blood ran. Men on both sides took bullets, lost limbs, and died.

Weeks wore on with little progress. Christmas neared. The two armies were positioned so closely to each other that at night Allied troops could hear their enemies across the line—they were huddled in their foxholes singing Silent Night in German.

On Christmas Eve, 1944, General Anthony McAuliffe, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, issued a flier to his men. It was headlined “Merry Christmas,” and the general wrote, “What’s merry about all this, you ask? We’re fighting. It’s cold. We aren’t home.” He went on to praise Allied troops for stopping flat everything the enemy was throwing at them. Then he described a story that happened two days earlier.

On December 22, the commander of the German army had sent word to McAuliffe. The enemy commander had painted a bleak picture of the Allied position, and insisted there was only one option to save the Allied troops from total annihilation.


When McAuliffe read the demands, he fumed, then sent back to the German commander a reply of only one word.


When the messenger asked for further explanation, he was told, “It’s the equivalent of saying, ‘Go to hell.’”

So, how does remembering Christmas 1944 change your life?

Yesterday evening I went to the mall with my family to do some Christmas shopping. We went into The Gap, and I noticed on the wall a recently-released poster of Michael J. Fox and his wife Tracy Pollan. They were doing a promotional piece to advertise the store.

Michael and Tracy were poised in a warm embrace. Tracy’s face was turned away from the camera, but Michael was staring straight into the lens. There were lines underneath his eyes. Some lines from age. Some from laughter. Some from experience. Some from fighting.

And I stared at that poster.

I stared at it a long time.

Michael J. Fox, like Muhammad Ali, has been battling Parkinson’s disease for years. At present, it’s still an unwinnable disease, and its symptoms have only increased in Michael over time.

But here was Michael on a poster in The Gap.

Still working.

Still loving his wife.

Still fighting hard.

Still saying NUTS!

No matter what weakness or problem you’re battling, a dark option always exists to crumble under life’s hardships. When you feel miserable, you’re tempted to quit under the weight of the difficulty.

That’s why remembering Christmas 1944 can change your life. It reminds you that even when life hits you hard, even if you’re fighting in a frozen forest, even if you have Parkinson’s, even if you’re crapping in a bag by the side of the freeway, you keep on going.

You refuse to surrender.

You say, NUTS!

When faced with a difficulty, what ways have you found to persevere through?


Marcus Brotherton is a regular contributor to Art of Manliness. Read his blog, Men Who Lead Well, at:

Photos Courtesy of Joe Muccia


{ 107 comments… read them below or add one }

1 P December 18, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Good story about a great story. NUTS is a great motto. I’m not sure you could say, “If Hitler controlled Bastogne, he would win the war,” being that the Battle of the Bulge was a last ditch effort by the Nazis, but either way it was a worthy topic and well said!

2 Andrew December 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Your WW2 inspired articles are the best! Keep them coming!

3 Mike December 18, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Thanks Marcus, I needed that.

4 John December 18, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Every-time I read anything about the Screaming Eagles, I always am inspired by them.

I seriously hope I’m able to become a paratrooper and join up with them.

5 Jerry December 18, 2012 at 7:42 pm

My preservance has always been ‘soon this to will end’ when facing pain, grief, or hardship. I recreate myself mentally and adapt to environment.

6 Ty December 18, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Really needed to read this

7 Shain December 18, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I so needed to hear this. The social media landscape does tend to lend itself to a sanitized look at the human endeavor, but to be human is to be flawed, in some ways to be frail, in some ways powerless. Still, you suit up. You show up.

We oft times focus so much on the overcoming, the winning that we forget that being a man is sometimes living with all the shit that one cannot necessarily overcome, or beat, or eradicate or change. Sometimes victory is acceptance of the state of things and the willingness to soldier on. Sometimes it is applying appropriate effort in the places it will have maximal impact.

8 Bruce Allan West December 18, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Great article! I love anything referencing the greatest generation. My grandfather was a combat engineer in the fourth infantry division – he fought in D-day, advanced through France, liberated Dachau, and fought in the battle of the bulge – never having left the front lines during the entire European theater. Having been to war myself (and only for a year and a half), I can hardly believe he lived through the war – let alone live to see his eighties. He died several years ago, but I still remember some of his traits: though he saw gruesome battle and fought like hell, he was among the gentlest of men I’ve ever known; his ghosts haunted him every night as he attempted to sleep (and failed), yet he could walk in his garden in the sunlight with the biggest smile on his face; he was wise, and practiced what I refer to as the Teddy Roosevelt approach to life, that is, “Speak softly and carry a big stick;” he was very soft-spoken, but could demand all the respect in the world – so much respect that his name found mention in a book by a Pulitzer winning poet laureate of Harvard; his war “trophies” are featured in the Holocaust Museum and various others; and his office displayed a picture of President Clinton shaking his hand after a speech he gave at the University of Arkansas.
I interpret these subtle hints to mean my grandpa was the man! Yet if you met him, you likely would’ve had a conversation with him in his garden or wood shop about the weather, tradition and of how times aren’t like they used to be – as he wore his overalls, “trucker hat” and pearl-snap shirt. You wouldn’t look at him and guess he’d done what he did.
He could’ve let his haunting memories corrupt him, carried a chip on his shoulders and approached life sorely – but instead he shrugged it off and soldiered on. His son, my late father, was much like him. They are the men I aspire to be. I know if I could I be half like them, I’d be twice the man I am today, and I’d never let the world get me down.

9 James December 18, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Your timing is perfect. Thank you for the reminder.

10 Brian December 18, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Good words, good comments. Thanks for the inspiration.

11 Alex December 18, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Although a major battle and one of importance, Hitler certainly would NOT have won the war in the period of November 1944. At this point in time he had already lost the battle on the Eastern front, not a matter of IF he will lose, but WHEN.

12 Marcus Brotherton December 18, 2012 at 9:10 pm

“Still, you suit up. You show up.”

Well put, Shain. Thanks. –MB

13 Hugh December 18, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Thanks for sharing and inspiring, in equal measure!

14 Bryan December 18, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Bruce West, your comment about your grandfather, “you wouldn’t look at him and guess he’d done what he had” seemed to fit a lot of the WWII guys I’ve met. I got to know one guy recently who was old and in poor health, yet one of his proudest memories was liberating Rome. He also had two purple hearts. But he was just an average old man. I’ve learned that most of those old guys of that age probably as young guys served the country (read “us”) when they were younger. Those guys are my heroes.

On a slightly different note: those guys at Bastogne had tough lives punctuated by hearing the enemy singing at night and getting a memo from the general on Christmas Day. Our “tough lives” are punctuated by trips to Gap. I’m trying to learn that when I think I have it rough, I need to step back and learn from someone who actually knew what it meant to face something difficult. (put more bluntly, to suck it up and quit whining)

15 Andy December 18, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Invictus by William Ernest Henley. 1849–1903

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance 5
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade, 10
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate: 15
I am the captain of my soul.

16 Dawson December 18, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Thank you. A good article and a great motivation to keep going and not give up or give in.

17 Lita December 18, 2012 at 11:34 pm

NUTS!, indeed.

If I may – that is exactly what it’s like to live with any sort of disability, physical or mental. It gets its claws into you, it does its best to take you down. Even a mild condition can make it extremely difficult to live one’s life, much less do it fulfillingly. And yes, it can be much too tempting to just put an end to everything. (I can say nothing particularly inspirational here, as I’ve been there…)

But there is a certain damn satisfaction in just letting out a big hearty “NUTS!” to any disability and getting on with your life anyway.

I’m sure I haven’t properly said what I wanted, but this is impossible to say unclearly: This has genuinely touched me, and reminded me that I need to keep a few good NUTS! about me. Thank you.

18 Ken December 18, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Great article, and very motivating. And just a neat little fact, the man crouched down serving the soldiers in the second photo is from my home town and was a good friend of my grandfather. Thanks again for the inspirational article!

19 liz December 19, 2012 at 12:32 am

There’s a reason for everything and I believe that I read this article NOW for a reason. My husband had a spastic colon and found a simple cure from a nutritionist. Take 1 tsp of l-glutamine ( an amino acid ) 3X a day thirty minutes before meals. It is the preferred fuel for enterocytes and it increases slgA, an immune cell in your digestive tract. Knock wood you should be all better in three weeks. Liquid l-glutamine can be bought in any good health food store and it is not really expensive and like they say, it cant hurt. Even though you will feel well you might consider getting tested for 1. a yeast infection and more importantly 2. a parasite infection. Specify to your doctor that he use the lab Metametrix and NOT Quest or Labcort as they leave a bit to be desired.Good luck and thanks for the reminder that an attitude can have a lot of power over a situation.

20 Vince December 19, 2012 at 3:32 am

Thanks brother… I needed that.

21 Robin December 19, 2012 at 5:58 am

Being a woman I still find much to learn on this website. Character and honor are requisite for both sexes. Thank you for another inspiring article.

22 Christopher December 19, 2012 at 6:41 am

Right post at the right time. Thanks.

23 Sacha December 19, 2012 at 7:58 am

When I´m in difficulty and wanting to give up, I remember my own self years ago. When I was in difficulty and didn´t give up, because I knew that in the future years I would be in a better stand and all would have been worth the effort. So now I say to myself, I won´t give up for my younger self believed in me and I shall no let him down.

24 Scott W. December 19, 2012 at 8:02 am

Regarding your urgencies.
Grab a head or two of green cabbage. Juice it up. Take 6 to 8 ounces of green cabbage juice each day for two days (or until the juice is gone). It won’t cure you, but it should keep your symptoms in check while you hunt for a cure.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t taste too bad, either.

25 Al Poplawski December 19, 2012 at 8:03 am

Great post! Always press on no mater what the odds. Thanks for giving us this wake up call.

26 Ben December 19, 2012 at 8:04 am

If you ever get a chance, go to Bastogne in December and do the memorial walk. They do every year. It is a great experience.

27 Landon December 19, 2012 at 8:34 am

Great post! It is how we respond in the hardest of times that truly reveals our character.

28 Paul December 19, 2012 at 8:43 am

I have a friend who has a degenerative disease. His condition gets worse every year. When I first met him he had just begun to use a wheelchair but was still strong and active. Now his spine is twisted and his arms can no longer support his weight. He has had internal organs removed.
None of this was his fault – he was given an incorrect drug by a hospital.

In the 20 or so years I have known him I have never heard him complain. I have never heard him moan about his luck. I have never heard him make bitter remarks a out the misdiagnosis.
He has started a family, and continues to work at least 2 or 3 days each week.

Every time I have a problem, or luck seems to be against me, or I have seemingly insurmountable worries I think about this guy. I feel humbled by him, and thankful I know someone who has shown me how to deal with the life you have instead of complaining and wishing for another.

Whenever I see sports players or film stars or politicians lauded as heroes I have a little laugh to myself. I know a real hero. I know what it means.

29 Scott Sideleau December 19, 2012 at 9:14 am

Last night I took my girlfriend to a nice little gastropub downtime to celebrate our 1-year anniversary. As we walked by The Gap, I saw the very same Michael J. Fox advertisement that you described in this very article and was moved by it just like you.

30 George December 19, 2012 at 9:22 am

Now THAT was a good article. Really enjoyed the read, thanks.

31 Richard M December 19, 2012 at 9:33 am

This is always a great story – and it’s a great time of year to share it. Thanks, Marcus, for bringing it to life again.

I will join in Alex’s quibble, however: It’s really not at all true to say that “If Hitler controlled Bastogne, he would win the war.” The war was already lost by that point (even if Hitler refused to believe it). It was only a question of time. Even with Bastogne, the Wehrmacht did not have the firepower necessary to achieve their objective (reaching Antwerp, thus splitting the Allied armies in half). And even if he had, he could not have sustained the split, or kept the Soviets from overrunning Eastern Germany.

However, Bastogne being surrendered would have made the Allies’ job notably more difficult. And the defiant example of the 101st Airborne was enormously powerful to boost the morale of American fighting men in that dark December. It remains one of the brightest moments in the history of American arms.

32 Darren December 19, 2012 at 9:38 am

That was excellent. I watched Band of Brothers last fall and the depiction of the Bastogne was just brutal. These men did what needed to be done. May we also so do.

Always inspired here, thanks.

33 Badger December 19, 2012 at 9:46 am

This is a very poignant article for me, and I appreciate the writing very much. I have been a warrior all my life, even put my “knees in the breeze” at the Bastogne DZ during jump school, and I never get tired of this story. Addtionally, about two weeks ago I had a seizure while teaching, first time in my life. I am currently taking medications, dealing with doctors who say “dunno” and I am not currently allowed to drive. Frustating tme for me. This story really helps. Reminds me of a saying we had in the army…Embrace the Suck!

34 Eric December 19, 2012 at 11:01 am

Thanks for writing this. In 2008 everyone in my field lost a lot of their retirement, squelching advancement for 20-somethings like me. I went back to school and took a second Master’s, entered the job market with temp jobs and now a minimum wage project position. Now we’re getting laid off three days before Christmas. NUTS!

35 Steven Wright December 19, 2012 at 11:05 am

Thanks for the powerful reminder that we are all battling something. Love the honesty.

I do however feel for you. After having similar experiences it’s been my mission for the last 4 years to cure my IBS. Not trying to spam but headover to my site linked to above for 100′s of articles that can help you get this part of your life handled. Happy Holidays!

36 Eric December 19, 2012 at 11:08 am

Thank you Marcus. I really needed this and it came at the right time. I refuse to surrender.

37 Adrian Angulo December 19, 2012 at 11:12 am

Nice article. It’s always nice to get a reality check every now and then. Thanks!

I used to live in Belgium when I was around 10 years old back in the ’80s. We visited Bastogne. It changed the way I see things in general. Thanks for sharing.

38 Hank December 19, 2012 at 11:37 am

Marcus, this is an excellent article, and very timely for so many of us. Whether it’s a personal issue, or a circumstance that has crippled a community with tragedy and heartbreak, I think “NUTS” is a great response. It’s the determination that ,come hell or high water, we’re going to get through this. For me, I think there are three realizations that have gotten me through hard times:
1. I’ve been through rough times before, and lived to tell. I’ll probably live this time, too.
2. I look ahead. What will the outcome be if I persevere? Is it worth making it to the other side?
3. I’m not alone. Besides there being people around me that both rely on me and are there to help carry me when needed, there’s Someone who faced it all before. That reality cannot be underestimated.

There’s a great song by a guy named Justin McRoberts that inspires me when hard times come:

“The question isn’t ‘are you going to suffer anymore’ / What will it have meant when you are through / The question isn’t ‘are you gonna die’; you’re gonna die / Will you be done living when you do?”

39 MJ December 19, 2012 at 11:40 am

Many years ago, after I graduated from university, I found myself living and working in a foreign country. I was struggling with the language and the food. I was working with people I did not really like and who were not very nice. The ol’ morale was going down hill fast. I found a good way to cope was to simply take it one day at a time and not worry about the long haul.

40 Marcus Brotherton December 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Thanks for these thoughtful comments so far, folks. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to read these.

Absolutely, it’s debatable about the win/loss positioning of Bastogne in hindsight. A reader on the A of M Facebook page had a good and lengthy comment explaining the military positioning more, and why Bastogne was a key win. Perhaps not an entire war-deciding battle, like some are saying here, yet a vital victory for Allied troops nevertheless. This was a difficult concept for me to try and get across in one line in this article, and I appreciate the further perspectives provided in the comment section.

Thanks also to a few readers here and also via email for the recommended remedies for spastic colon. I’ve tried a lot of things over the years, but will add these to the list. :)

41 SJ December 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm

On the same note as this article, does anyone remember the article about the one soldier that was helping his dying fellow soldier by joking around and telling him he was exaggerating, or something like that? The moral of the story was that the guy was actually helping his buddy by treating him like someone who’s going to live. If anyone remembers and can steer me in the right direction, I’d appreciate: one of my friends is fighting with cancer and I wanted to have him read it because of a discussion we had about “Do treat me differently because I have cancer”… Thanks!

42 stephen December 19, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Great article, very inspirational.

Just please remember that although Germany declared war on us, they had no bomber with the range to reach the US and no navy capable of transporting their army to the US. Like today’s wars, this one was for profit and power, too. There’s nothing to memorialize or get misty about other than profiteering from a European war that we didn’t need to enter.

That said, the men on the ground at the time didn’t know any better and their response under duress is a wonderful example of courage. Thanks for the reminder of a great story.

43 Marshall O December 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Great Post! Great way to recapture what is really important in times that we sometimes face (like a spastic colon). I’ll remember NUTS the next time I’m facing troubling circumstances.

44 Dan December 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm

My grandfather, now 88, was one of these men there on December 1944. I am glad to see that their deeds still inspire others so many years later. My grandfather’s generation is not getting any younger – if you have a chance to talk to one of these people… serviceperson or not, do so. Their stories always enforce the point on me that they were truly the “greatest generation”.

45 Magistra Bona December 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Dear Mr. Brotherton:
Just a suggestion. Ignore or heed, as you will. Spastic colon, and many other chronic, life-annoying diseases may have their source in our conventional diet. Please find and read Wheat Belly, a book by Dr. William Davis. Do you eat healthy food made with whole wheat? Good for you…not. The kind of wheat so many of us eat is not designed for human health, but for agricultural profit. Switch to other grains, especially older wheat varieties like Einkorn wheat. Just a thought. I would be great if you could treat your condition without synthetic drugs or surgery. Sometimes a little change makes a big difference. Good luck. Great post!

46 Chris G December 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Thank you for the inspiration! I have been at my wits end lately, feeling of hopelessness and despair are unimaginable.

July 4th my job went to Mexico City and I was laid off (I know, ironic). I immediately filed for unemployment as I have been looking for a job for over 2 months and have come up with nothing. This was the last NOC job I could locate in the entire state and was now gone.

3 1/2 months earlier I had a new son born and my older son turned 4 just a few weeks after I was laid off. I also had just celebrated my 17 year-old step-daughter’s birthday. With my wife, if you are keeping track, that’s 5 hungry mouths to feed. Over the past 5 months, things have gotten more difficult. My wife had surgery on her knee from a work accident and we found out she was recently fired for over some paperwork they said she didn’t complete even though I was there and know it was done. I got arrested for a major felony which I did not commit and spent a night a jail. Our 1 car’s registration is 3 months overdue and we can’t renew it because our CEL is on (and other various problems that’s happening to it) and it has to pass emissions (which is required where we live) to register it.

I’ve had a few bright areas in the past few months with promises of a job here or there from companies only to get those hopes crushed by random things to stop the jobs.

So I will go on and say, “NUTS” because it’s all I can do right now! Things could always be worse!

47 Morgan December 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Cheers mate. Good story. Very fitting. I needed it.

48 Dan December 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Great article, I appreciate the sentiment and the moral; it reminds me of another great wartime story from 30 years before, The Christmas Truce of 1914. If you’re not familiar with it, look it up boys, it’s an equally inspirational story with a different message.

49 Joe December 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Well done, Marcus. I lost my best friend this summer to the scourge of Parkinson’s. He fought long and hard, but could not fight anymore. I saw the Fox poster in the Gap myself while Christmas shopping, and was impressed as well by such a great photo.

50 Marcus December 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm

@ SJ,

The article you’re looking for is this one about Sid Phillips:

51 Reid December 19, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Absolutely spot on, and a great boost for me personally on a day that has tried to kick me while I got up. Twice.


52 JohnA December 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I read every entry from AOM…EVERY entry. This is among the best I’ve read.

53 Eric December 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Just to clear up some date mistakes, the Battle of The Bulge, also known as Operation Watch on The Rhine to the Germans; began on 16 December 1944, not late November.

There was, however, an over arching amount of combat already taking place by then in the Hürtgen Forest area.

54 Dean Henderson December 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm

@ Andy : Thanks for the reference to William Ernest Henley’s great poem. I had to have my leg amputated two years ago, so his story is especially uplifting for me.

Please read of my plight here:

55 Kevin Markl December 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Highly recommend watching Band of Brothers, a TV mini-series on HBO produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. The series coveried Easy Company of the 101st Airborne, the unit that was surrounded in Bastogne, through the war. One episode as someone else has already mentions, focuses exclusively on Bastogne and the events described in this posting.

PS: There’s also a book about this at

56 David Y December 19, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Thanks for another great article. These are what keeps me coming back to AOM.

On the whole, I’ve been pretty fortunate in life. Had some problems like everyone else. But, nothing like the men at Bastogne or some of the other examples covered here.

My dad was Marine, wounded at Pelelui. If he talks about the war, it is the lighter side of things. He never lets the injuries stop him from doing what he wanted. Even now at 87 with a number of health issues, he doesn’t complain(at least not too much).

It’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves when things don’t go the way we want. But, these examples can and should inspire us to say NUTS! to lifes problems. We won’t always overcome, but we can try.

57 EDER December 19, 2012 at 6:21 pm

“When you’re going through hell, keep going”
-Winston Chrurchill

58 Rahul December 20, 2012 at 3:19 am

Lovely post!
@Shain, Man, your comment was as well put as this article. Loved it!

59 Jon December 20, 2012 at 6:36 am

Nuts! It’s a term I use often when something doesn’t go quite as planned. It’s good to be reminded of the importance of perspective in life. Someone almost always has it worse of than you. Thank you for the article.

60 Rico December 20, 2012 at 7:34 am

Though your christmas story makes a good point, the better point is made by the story of the christmas truce in 1914:

61 TC December 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

Good article. Reminds me what I tell many of my students and my own kids. Whatever people may say things do not happen for a reason, the fact is things just happen in life its how we deal with them that matters, that highlights who we are.

62 Tiger December 20, 2012 at 10:48 am

Thanks, this is something I needed to hear.

63 fred December 20, 2012 at 11:15 am

Timely article. Thank you. I’ve been looking hard for a new position for 8 months with little prospects. Keep calm and carry on. Check with others to make sure you are not going about it wrong, but then keep going.

64 Sujeet December 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm

NUTS! – Great post.

65 Rick December 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Wow… Thank you for baring your soul, Marcus, and for reminding us of the standard we have before us.

66 Christian December 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Great article, thanks for that

67 Terrie December 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Dear Marcus,
I had the same issue. Now I am taking Zoloft – yes, I know it is for depression – but it makes your nerves function properly. I take 1/3 of a pill 3 times a day to keep my colon in check. It is the only thing that I have found to work. My brother-in-law is a doctor specializing in colons. Also Metamucil is now my daily friend. Merry Christ Mass!

68 BI December 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Great article. One minor clarification–General McAuliffe was not the commander of the 101st Airborne Division, he was the division artillery commander. However, he did lead the 101st during the siege of Bastogne because he was the highest-ranking officer present; the unexpected German offensive began while 101st commanding officer General Maxwell Taylor was at a military conference in Washington. A nit-pick, to be sure, but I think it’s also a testament to Anthony McAuliffe’s ability; he was able to take command under harsh and unusual circumstances and lead an outstanding defense against all odds.

69 Tanner December 20, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Would like you sincerely for this post; i’ve been looking for something like this to back up my beliefs for a while.
Have a Merry Christmas!

70 Pete December 21, 2012 at 8:07 am

Great post. And for the bowel, as if you need further advice: real chicken stock, made the old way from carcass/necks boiled up with onions and celery. Drink a bowl a day. If it doesn’t work within a couple of weeks, you at least learned how to make stock, which is the foundation of all good cuisine. All the best.

71 brandon December 21, 2012 at 9:28 am

my grandfather was at Bastonge in ’44. he was part of an anti-aircraft artillery unit in the US 3rd Army; 11th armored div. at christmas time my uncle would always ask “where were you today in 1944?” and every year he would say “digging a hole in the snow next to a log, trying to keep warm”

his story is much the same as described in the article. his division was trying to lay low and keep warm, low on ammunition and there was a German unit across the field from them that, to his knowledge, were not aware they were there. he never spoke much about it, but ill never forget the times he did

72 David Kopp December 21, 2012 at 9:54 am

Marcus, thanks for this piece. A terrific job of recreating an epic moment, and the humanity you bring to me encourages me. Merry Christmas to you, brother. Dave

73 Patrick December 22, 2012 at 10:36 am

Definitely needed this. I’m in that “feeling hopeless” category. Thanks, man.

74 K December 22, 2012 at 4:38 pm

It’s two days before Christmas and my husband and I are both deployed to different parts of Afghanistan, both with the 101st (yes, I’m a woman who reads The Art of Manliness…my husband got me into it). It’s a pretty cushy deployment, but sometimes I find myself completely unmotivated and overwhelmed with loneliness and homesickness – today was probably the worst. Thank you for reminding me of my unit’s legacy, that this really isn’t so bad, and that men and women before me have persevered through so much worse, whether they were fighting Parkinson’s or the Battle of the Bulge.

75 Shirley Goff December 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Marcus, a relative of mine had a similar condition to yours. After experimenting with leaving various things out of her diet, she finally discovered that if she did not eat grains of any kind that her intestines worked fine. It has been over 3 years now, and her health is thriving. It’s pretty much the paleo diet that she follows, though she came to it through her own trials. Robb Wolfe in The Paleo Solution explains the details of why this would work.

76 Wendy December 22, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Thank you Marcus for being so right on and also so vulnerable. It is always good for anyone in the “spotlight” to admit to their humanness. For me? I choose to say “nuts” to not forgiving. I choose to do it everyday. Love you guys – Aunt Wendy

77 Tim December 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Great story, appreciate the honesty and encouragement. I have recently been painfully reminded in some circumstances that I need to persevere, that so often I want to give up too easily. “Nuts!” is more fun than the word persevere, however, and it’s part of our shared history as men. Thanks.

78 smitty December 23, 2012 at 11:34 am

Great article! This story would be great anytime of the year, but it really reminds me of what kind of experiences my grandparents generation lived and thrived through. The best we can do for ourselves and those of our children is to be an honest example of nuts! don’t quit…reguardless!

79 Chris December 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm

My wife and I have been struggling for the past 5 months to purchase a short sale. The bank has been dragging their feet, the trustee wants an extra $20,000, and out apartment manager has already rented our apartment out from under us. If we don’t close on the house in the next few days we are essentially homeless. After reading this story life doesn’t seem quite so bad any more.

80 rico567 December 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Quote: “If Hitler controlled Bastogne, he would win the war.”

I think not. You should re-read the general situation of the Allies and Nazi Germany in late 1944. The Bulge was a desperation move, nothing more (not that this detracts from what the 101st did at Bastogne one iota).

81 Chad December 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm

2003 in Iraq. Hauling fuel North, missed our turn, ended up much closer to Baghdad than a convoy of fuel tankers wanted to be. Had to turn the entire convoy around on the interstate as we could find a way to get to the southbound lanes. During the very tight turn my one of my air lines broke, leaving me stuck and the rest of the convoy unable to turn around, Nuts, embrace the suck, FIDO, all these sayings/theories help me get through life. It truly could always be worse. Great article, thanks AofM.

82 John December 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Good read.

We all deserve a little time to feel bad for our selves and the shit that we might find our selves in, and to be pissed off about the unfairness of it all, but when those two seconds are up you have to drag your sorry ass back into the fight and get back to work. It’s not always easy and it’s not always done with grace.

I’m just glad I’m not crapping in a plastic bag on the side of the freeway.

Keeps things in perspective.

Thank you Marcus, sincerely. Merry Christmas.

83 Matt December 25, 2012 at 8:21 pm


Thank you so much for this article. I deal with an issue im very embarassed about sometimes. but this article really made me think about persevering through life and working hard. I am a young 21 year old, and this is my first time commenting on this site. But i frequently visit, and love the articles.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year .

84 Bob Smirton December 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Great article, very inspirational. Optimism is a virtue.

Only one note, WW2 was irreversibly turned on the Eastern Front, and losing this major battle on the Western Front would’ve simply meant that less German territory would be under western control vs what fell to Soviet Army. The tide of war was not being decided in Belgium when vast majority of Hitler’s troops were fighting on the East front.

85 Suzan Zaner December 26, 2012 at 9:53 pm

I offer my suffering to Jesus.

86 Khedijah Vidal December 27, 2012 at 5:06 am

gr8 post… inspirational….NUTS… my new catch phrase…. thanks

87 Eugene December 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Great article, Marcus. Great comments, too. It reminded me of the Stan Rogers song “The Mary Ellen Carter”, about a group of friends who persevere through adversity to raise a sunken vessel. Great song with inspirational lyrics. In part:

“And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go
Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.”


88 Dan December 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Marcus, that opening line is one that’s really hard to pass up! Thanks for the encouragement. I shall now proceed to say nuts to various enemies encircling me…finances, employment, autism, disabilities…and say Merry Christmas, troops! Thank you.

89 Ringo December 27, 2012 at 11:32 pm

When I come upon what I think is a difficult time I think of my cousin Jeff. At the age of 27 he was hit by a car and recieved a terrible head injury.He recently had his 60th birthday in the nursing home that has been his home since leaving the hospital 33 yrs ago. He has no long term memory so he does not know he has been there so long. When I think how he cannot walk, stand, function etc.. I get off my ass and do what is necessary to continue on.

90 Jam December 28, 2012 at 6:14 am

Best article I have read on here. A lesson on life.

91 David B December 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I am in Lyon at the moment with my brother, trying desperately to find a way to make it down to San Sebastian to see my Grandfather before he leaves. I’ve got little help, my nerves are frayed, and though my trip was supposed to be a holiday, I feel like I’m at the end of my rope. This was exactly the article I needed to read. Not only has it put my problems in perspective, its given me the strength and calm to go on. Thank you.

92 Nathan December 30, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Great article. I needed to read this, thank you.

93 Jasmine December 31, 2012 at 9:28 pm

As a woman, I appreciate the raw description of your experience. Great article.

94 Brian January 2, 2013 at 10:08 am

What an inspiring post. As a military retiree, my proudest time in uniform was when I had the privilige to lead a rifle company in the 101st Airborne Division. Never, ever underestimate the tenacity of the American infantryman….

95 Cmartinez January 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Fantastic article…but i wanted to correct comment #1 assertion that the Battle of the Bulge was most crucial…technically he/she is correct but whats wrong is the battle of Bastohne is technically the Battle of the Bulge in part. The primary goals of the offensive were to capture the Belgian port of Antwerp and to drive a wedge between the British and American armies. This offensive “Battle of the Bulge.” failed due largely to American resistance around St. Vith, on the northern shoulder of the Bulge, and by American forces holding Bastogne on the southern shoulder of the Bulge.

96 Entreri January 8, 2013 at 4:20 am

I suffer the same medical condition, with the same results as you have had. I’m also a WWII junky.

Reading this article has changed my perspective on my issues. It seems silly that it could, but it has. I don’t feel so isolated or afraid as I did, and I actually came across this article by accident, as I am not a man and don’t frequent the site.

I spent most of the day after reading your articles and they are phenomenal. Thanks for some honest perspective.

97 Matt January 8, 2013 at 11:09 am

I had the good fortune of visting Bastogne and was surprised to learn that it also has trenches from WWI. Point being; we have to fight many wars throughout our life so you better become a better soldier.

98 JR January 10, 2013 at 6:31 am

Agree with the many contributors who have remarked on the fact that, as a military history anecdote, the head post leaves a lot to be desired. However, also agree that saying “Nuts” occasionally is the only alternative to learning to live on antidepressant medication, or indeed jumping off that bridge. Spending one’s life playing Hamlet is not a comfortable option … Best regards, JR.

99 Vince P January 10, 2013 at 10:49 am

I’ve got an anxiety disorder, think OCD with fewer compulsions. I feel anxious 75% of the time I’m awake, and about 20% of that results in panic attacks over what most people would consider trivial things- school work, many social situations, and other day-to-day activities. To be honest, it sucks. Anxiety is one of the worst feelings you can possibly have because so many people just don’t understand it and so rarely have it. When I become paralyzed by it, few people really understand the gravity what I’m feeling, even though they may claim to. Just yesterday I got a bit depressed and anxious (ironically) over the fact that I’m often paralyzed by it.

This article helped put things in perspective for me and uplifted me. Dealing with my anxiety is not in any way a comfortable experience, because I have to soldier through and deal with the very things that cause me to feel like an anxious statue among many relatively happy and productive moving people.

Thank you for a great, uplifting article. I’ll print it out & read it when I need some inspiration.

100 Darren bjarnason January 12, 2013 at 10:32 am

My grandfather and my great uncle grew up in Holland. They were taken prisoner by the Nazis and forced into work camps. They weren’t Jewish, just able bodied young men. It was essentially a concentration camp where they just work you to death. Both survived, many didn’t. I always think if they could get through those tough times, whatever I’m facing is trivial in comparison. It really puts things into perspective for me.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter