And maybe it’s easy.  It’s easy to make friends with fear.  It’s easy when you realize it has many friends.  David knew he was lost.  Lost in the shuffle.  Just a name.  A number.  He’d seen casualty lists that looked like this.  Deployment orders.  Where you forget about the men—individual men with hopes and fears—and see only battalions, companies, regiment symbols.  He was small.  The little guy.  And expendable…  And so it’s not hard after this.  It’s not hard to make friends with the fear.  Because no one really cares.  No one’s paying attention.  Your life is not serious.  Your happiness can go by unnoticed just as your sadness.  What you do is not important, and if you die doing it—well, there will be others…  It’s almost safe in a way.  Because you’re not alone, but you are.  You belong to something—a race, a gender.  You acquire habits others acquire.  You have your religion.  Even your weird hobbies can find a community.  You belong to something so much bigger, and in a way your vote doesn’t even have to count, with so many others like you.  You’re just a sampling of a demographic, quietly on file—a statistic on a spreadsheet…  When you feel that way the fear kind of goes away.  Your life and the choices you make lose all its significant drama, and you are free to do what you want.  You are free in your anonymity.

Sometimes it’s good to feel small.  Sometimes it’s the only way to get a good judgment of your worth, and you find strength you never had.  You find it because it’s given to you in that moment you lose everything else.  You find it when you find your insignificance.  And David was on guard that night—Christmas Eve in Bastogne.  A night when he could look up at the stars and feel it.  He could feel his insignificance and his strength.  His breath just a small cloud in the wintry expanse.  And all the things he could think about, all his opinions on the matter—this erased, blank—what he received from the silence all around him more because of it.  His anonymity still responsible to his fate.

There were just larger forces at play.  By December, 1944, the goal of the German offensive was the harbor at Antwerp.  In order to reach it before the Allies could regroup and bring their superior air power to bear, German mechanized forces had to seize the roadways through eastern Belgium.  Because all seven main roads in the Ardennes mountain range converged on the small town of Bastogne, control of its crossroads was vital to the German attack. The siege began on the 20th of December, leaving American forces waiting to be relieved by elements of General George Patton’s 3rd Army.  David Threnody was a part of these forces, along with Johnny Tribout, and the remnants of what was left of their anti-tank battalion.  They were deployed together after leaving Biloxi, and after a short encampment in England they’d seen their stint of fighting and been together ever since.  It may seem strange that a black man such as David Threnody was found in a white man’s outfit, but that’s a story in itself.  The story of this story.  According to David, and in interviews Johnny gave later, it was their music.  David’s guitar playing got him his assignment, commanding officers overlooking the color of his skin because of what it did for morale.  But this could be a case of larger forces at play as well.  Popovitch might have had a hand in it, in what was noted in David’s file when he was enlisted.  Whatever the case, the fact and fiction of it, the story of David soothing evil spirits during the war with his guitar has a nice ring to it, and by December of 1944, he was a seasoned veteran and still just a number.   He was still just anonymous and the fact that he was black was unimportant–given the mess, the mess in how logistics are handled during a war.  Records being what they are we’ll never know really, and all we have is the story, the story of how David had to be there.  He had to be in Bastogne, Christmas 1944.  He had to defeat the Goliath.  Not because he was significant, but because what had to happen was…

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