I was so gently reminded this morning that not only is today the 22nd day of December but it is also December 22, 2012 which is exactly 68 years from December 22, 1944.
What's so special about December 22, 1944 and what do NUTS have to do with it?
Well, that is the day that an event of epic proportions took place and the word "Nuts" played a huge role.
Let me take you back in time a bit.
Fresh off the heels of the Allied invasion of Europe just a mere six months earlier, then past fighting along the French hedgerows and then the Liberation of Paris. It seemed that US and Allied Forces were going to hit Berlin faster than anyone imagined. That is until they entered the BENELUX (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) region of Europe then things started to slow down. The German forces started to feel that their backs were to the wall and they were not prepared to let any foreign invaders enter their country. So they "amped" up operations and really tried to put it to the ALLIES.
It was not until the winter started to settle in. Trust me folks, if you have never experienced a winter in Europe you really would not begin to understand just how much of a game changer the weather is, but I digress (only a little).
OK, so the US Forces are making their way to the small but critical crossroads right in the middle of a town in southeastern Belgium; Bastogne. They were somewhat rather swiftly encircled by fast moving German forces that were intent on cutting off the supply lines of the Allied Forces, in what they hoped would turn the tide of the war in favor of the German Forces.
So the two forces met at Bastogne with the German Forces taking the upperhand and surround the US Forces. It was late December and as I mentioned the weather was not cooperating making air drops almost impossible. Thus as the ensuing battle raged ammo, food, medicine and cool weather gear were running out or non-existent. Nothing demoralizes the fighting man more than lack of bullets, beans, and band aids.
By the 22nd of December the US Forces were starting to think that everything was lost as they were surrounded by the enemy, supplies were running out, and their leaders had forgotten about them, until. Until under a white flag a small contingent of German Soldiers (two officers and two enlisted) the following ultimatum to Gen. McAuliffe:
To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.
The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.
There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.
If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours term.
All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well-known American humanity.
The German Commander.
The response by General Anthony McAuliffe had to be something that not only seemed rational, considering the situation but also fair to all the men under his command. Thus his response was simple and to the point:
Once word of Gen. McAuliffe's response to the Germans got out the morale of each and every soldier shot up. Those the situation was hopeless that one word changed the outcome of the war. It offered enough motivation to each soldier to hold on just a little bit longer. The weather finally cleared up a few days later and air drops of supplies were accomplished. That along with reinforcements from Patton's 3rd Army arrived to help break the siege of Bastogne and return the allied advancement towards Berlin. About five months later, the war in Europe comes to an end.
As we approach Christmas 2012, please take a moment to remember the men and women that have served and are serving in defense of our nation. As you are at home warm and cosy getting ready to enjoy your Christmas and New Years, be grateful that men like those that were in Bastogne 68 years ago who sacrificed so much that we may be here today.
Merry Christmas! and NUTS!!!