Sixty-eight years ago today, I was a scared, cold and hungry 20-year old paratrooper huddled in a snow-covered foxhole on the outskirts of Bastogne, Belgium. Our 101st Airborne Division (Band of Brothers) was surrounded by Germans trying to capture or kill us. They demanded our surrender with this Ultimatum:
_________________________________________________________________________________________To the USA Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne:
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.
Our Commander, Anthony McAuliffe, gave the Germans his reply: "NUTS," and sent us this message on December 24:
By holding Bastogne---we are giving our country and our lived ones at home a worthy Christmas present.
Helping to secure your freedom is my "Christmas present" to you.