Band of Brothers

Ambrose, Stephen E.

Simon & Schuster, 1992

pp. 227 - 228

War is hell, but there are dimensions of battle that become “secret attractions,” as Glenn Gray (a member of E Company) writes. For one thing combat is a spectacle. Its sights and sounds are dramatic—fireworks displays of bursting shells, antiaircraft searchlights bouncing beams off clouds to illuminate the battlefield below, and also flares and tracers. Artillery shells set fires that crackle and flame and light up the countryside. For another thing, combat ignites feelings of kinship among soldiers that are far more intense than anything to be had in peacetime. And then there is the sheer destructiveness of battle. In peacetime, people will gather to watch a dynamited building fall. In combat you might see a building destroyed every hour. The sight becomes hypnotic. Finally, [a main dimension of the morally nauseating atmosphere generated by war], “the soldier’s concern is with death, not life, with destruction, not construction. The ultimate destruction is killing another human being. When snipers hit a German on the other side, they would shout ‘I got him! I got him!’ and dance for joy.”