The day I moved from Dayton, Ohio to Marshall, Texas was the scariest yet most exhilarating experience of my life. Embarking through the great unknown equipped only with a couple of suitcases full of clothes, a credit union card, and a hodge-podge of practical life lessons to help me survive. Of course initially I didn’t put all that good advice to use. The only one I actually applied was when it came to coitus, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” Or my more crude version, “wrap it before you tap it.” I was never really much of a tapper.
When I first arrived in Marshall I grabbed the first apartment I found available with a communal laundry room which was the hang-out of some of the worst riff-raff I’ve ever encountered. An assortment of flying insects fluttering about, spiders lurking in the corners and webbed above the entrance, and waterbugs the size of mice scurrying to their hiding places as I plied into the room. The apartment was only slightly better. Waterbugs and cockroaches invisibly squeezing themselves between the carpet and walls. The bedroom ceiling fan covered with duct tape to seal the entrance from the swarm of ladybugs that blessed me one day right before bedtime.
Apartment, check. Next, it’s time to go shopping for food and supplies for my new home. I took off to Walmart and bought pizza rolls, frozen burritos, Hot Pockets, candy, cereal, milk, cups, silverware, cleaning supplies and plates to put my Subway sandwiches and all that other crap on. I’m nauseous even thinking about how I actually ate that stuff.
Finally I bought the big stuff. Microwave, air mattress, Playstation, DVD player, and a 48 inch big screen television (Rent to Own).
This is surviving baby!
I’ve said all this but what does this have to do with “All Quiet on the Western Front”. I’m glad you asked. One day I rented “Band of Brothers” at Blockbuster to watch on my 48 inch TV from the air mattress on the nasty carpet eating my Subway sandwich on my new Walmart plates. Thus began the moment when I fell in love with this mini-series and the amazing stories of the brave soldiers who fought for our country. I discovered that real history was much more interesting than the condensed and biased version they teach in high school. For me, facts and dates are nowhere near as captivating as the stories of the individual struggling to survive and make a difference.
Reading “All Quiet on the Western Front” reminded me of what I loved about “Band of Brothers” minus the special effects. A story about a collection of German soldiers banding together through the harsh elements of World War I. Not filled with political propaganda but designed primarily to describe the realities of war:
- A limited supply of nourishment and sleep.
- Death an almost certainty and the longer the war the greater the odds it will come for each soldier.
- A need for survivors to develop a thick skin for others who have perished before them or fear of the soldier’s fate could leave them petrified.
- WWI trench warfare.
The details included in this novel was expressed so translucently it became a banned book in Germany. I presumed the country saw this novel as a threat to the morale of future soldiers.
I constantly hear about how some week has been designated to pay tribute to something or ruther so Septempter 21-27 has been chosen as “Banned Book Week“. Check out this list when you have time and feel like a rebel with the book you’ve chosen to read.
My wife requested that I make this a two part blog since I wrote multiple versions about this amazing novel. I loved the story about a war I was less familiar with that was from the German perspective. Even more so I connected with the mental struggle the soldiers endured with my own battle with having a daughter with a neurological disorder knowing from the beginning that it will inevitably take her life. I will explain in more detail in my next blog.