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Remembering Historian Stephen E. Ambrose

October 19, 2002

Hearing of the passing of Stephen E. Ambrose kind of took the wind from my sails (obituary, Oct. 14).

Growing up in a post-John Wayne America, many of us lost track of who the real heroes of World War II were. Ambrose changed that. When I saw "Band of Brothers" I was riveted in anticipation of each episode. Seeing the stories of ordinary American men such as C. Carwood Lipton -- a man then younger than myself who survived D-Day, Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge and right up through the end of the war -- gave me a better understanding of human nature and what real heroism is.

Growing up with movies such as "Patton" that focused on a single larger-than-life figure, I never thought about the average soldier. I really had no idea of the individual acts of bravery and heroism in just one company. Thinking that they might have "Hollywoodized" the stories a little, I read Ambrose's book and found that was not true at all. This led me to read "D-Day June 6, 1944" and "Citizen Soldiers."

Again and again, there were average men and women never thinking of themselves, just working together selflessly for a common goal. Ambrose's writing gave me an understanding and respect for those people who, thanks to him, will never be forgotten. There were unfortunate acts on both sides, and he wrote about both. In "Citizen Soldiers" he never demonized the average German soldiers; he let them tell their stories.

I hope there are others out there who were as touched by Ambrose's writing as I was.

Brett Papworth

Simi Valley

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