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Dick Winters

“In an attempt to escape the tension that combat caused, I developed a heavier than usual exercise regimen and I attended church on a regular basis. There were only a few days that I didn’t run two to three miles, do eighty push-ups, sixty sit ups on a foot locker, a couple of splits, and some leg and trunk exercises after the day’s work was over. As a result I kept in pretty good shape — not what I’d call wrestling shape, but good enough for army work. Physical activity kept me mentally alert, built up my endurance, and kept me supple.

Another thing I noted about being overseas and away from home was that I found myself not giving a damn about trivial things. Maybe I was spoiled. If I received mail, good, but it didn’t bother me one way or another if I didn’t. The only value about receiving mail is that it temporarily took my mind off my work and back to the land I dreamed of all the time… On Sundays, I prepared for church, buttons shined, boots polished, and ribbons in neat rows on my tunic. I considered it a very special privilege to be able to go to church and I didn’t want to miss the chance. If combat had taught me anything, it taught me what was essential in life and what wasn’t. In my prayers before D-Day, I had always thanked God for what He had done for the world in general and asked that others would be given a break in the future. I had also thanked Him for a lot of things that I now found to be insignificant. The only thing I asked for now was to be alive tomorrow morning and to survive another day. That was all that mattered — that was the only thing as far as wanting anything for myself. All other things had become extra, nonessential, and I could not be bothered or burdened with nonessentials. Not when battle was the payoff. […]

Evening allowed a few minutes of quiet reflection… The Germans were evidently not as tired as we were because they fired their machine guns all night and hollered like a bunch of drunken kids having a party. Before I dozed off, I did not forget to get on my knees and thank God for helping me to live through this day and ask His help on D+1. I would live this war one day at a time, and I promised myself that if I survived, I would find a small farm somewhere in the Pennsylvania countryside and spend the remainder of my life in quiet and peace.”

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Pulled from Dick Winters’s war memoirs Beyond Band of Brothers. Winters parachuted into Normandy on D-Day as the commander of Easy Company, as shown in the HBO series Band of Brothers.