THE EDUCATION OF ELLA MARIE
A speech delivered by Patrick Gouran, November 26, 2002
The Iowa Chapter of Veterans of THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE
Preface remarks: You will never know...you will NEVER KNOW how honored I am to have been invited to address this group.
The titleof this speech is THE EDUCATION OF ELLA MARIE. I considered other titles...NEVER FORGET...but I
hope the meaning of the title I have chosen will unfold as I progress.
Once again, I find myself OUT OF MY ELEMENT. I am NOT a veteran - and certainly
NOT A VETERAN OF THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE!! Why am I here - what can I share
with you that you don't know, AND have experienced?
By trade, I am called an educator, but it is certainly not you whom I can teach.
What you have taught me, however, can and MUST BE PASSED ON. I CAN do that - at least in some small measure.
My first grand daughter was born less than a month ago. Her name is Ella Marie.
She will go to school; she will LEARN THINGS - She will learn facts. She will learn the names
of great historical men and women - ARISTOTLE, SHAKESPEARE. EINSTIEN, MADAM CURRIE,
and I can imagine her coming to me and saying - "Grandpa, aren't you SAD that you didn't know
any GREAT HISTORICAL FIGURES - MEN AND WOMEN WHO ACCOMPLISHED GREAT/SIGNIFICANT THINGS?".
My answer would be, "Oh, Ella Marie, BUT I DO! You see, I am friends with men and women who
fought in the BATTLE OF THE BULGE during WWII.
Ella Marie might say, "the BATTLE OF THE BULGE, what was that?". My answer - "Ask your teacher.".
And two days later, Ella Marie might say, "I asked my teacher, and this is what she said"...
BULGE, BATTLE of the
(Dec. 16, 1944 - Jan 16, 1945) In World War II, the last German offensive on the Western Front,
an unsuccessful attempt to divide the Allied forces and prevent an invasion of Germany.
The "bulge" refers to the wedge that the Germans drove into the Allied lines. In December 1944,
Allied forces were caught unprepared by a German counterthrust in the wooded Ardennes
region of S Belgium. The German drive, led by G. von Rundstedt's panzer army, was initially
successful but was halted by Allied resistance and reinforcements led by G. Patton. The Germans
withdrew in January 1945, but both sides suffered heav losses.
And, of course, those ARE THE FACTS. The ENTIRE BATTLE OF THE BULGE reduced to 101 words.
"Well, Ella Marie, do you remember me telling you that I DO KNOW great historical figures"? "Here's what
some of them EXPERIENCED during that battle your teacher...the internet...reduced to 101 words.
I always told the guys, "If you ever see or hear of anybody coming through and their tags say that
they are from Iowa, let me know.". Still, I tried not to get too attached to any patient. But there was
this one little blond fellow who was brought in with a bad chest wound. He looked so young that
I just wondered, "Why is he here? He's not ready to be in battle.". He looked like such a little boy. I
prepared him for surgery; then I had to leave to get supplies. When I came back, I saw this litter on
the floor and it was covered up. I knew I shouldn't look, but I did. It was the little blonde fellow. That
was one of the hardest times I had. We weren't allowed to write to the next of kin, but I thought
afterwarda, "I wish I could have written his mother and said, 'I was there. he did get care. We tried our
best.'". I think it would have meant a lot to her. (RUTH MILLER - NURSE, U.S. ARMY)
In early January we were loaded in a truck and driven through a freezing rainstorm. It was about
midnight and in a blizzard when we got to this little German mountain village called Berg. It didn't take
that other outfit more than two minutes to get out. "This is where we stand guard. This is where the
Germans are." They were gone. So there we were at this army outpost about three miles in advance
of everybody else. We had only been there a few hours before the Germams moved in. The 11th
Panzers pulled their tanks right into the courtyard and fired pointblank through the windows. Dosie
Masicolli was running from on building to another. He ran in front of a window and they fired at the
same time. The biggest part of him we found was a foot and an ankle. He had a wife and three children.
(BRUCE LONGSTREET - U.S. ARMY)
We were sent over to be replacements for the 101st who had not come back from the Normandy Invasion.
I was sent to the 506th because of my communications skills. I went alone. I walked into the barracks
and they were half-empty. I asked th the sergeant, "Where do you want me to sleep?". He said, You can
sleep in any of those bunks you want to. Those guys aren't coming back."
(CURLY NORRIS - 101ST AIRBORNE)
So you see, Ella Marie, the BATTLE OF THE BULGE IS NOT 101 words. It is an historic event of
hugh proportions; fought and WON by great historical figures...and I am proud to say
that I am friends with some of them.
And please remember this Ella Marie: YOU now have the responsibility to make certain that
your children and grandchildren...NEVER FORGET.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am not one of you...I can never be one of you. I can, however,
help assure that your valor, your committment, your courage, and your moral fiber are ALWAYS REMEMBERED.
One of your own says it best:
I think it would be good for the younger generation to think about those boys who were lost - to go to
Belgium in that cemetery and stand out there among thos white crosses for about an hour and just think
about it for a while. What all those young guys missed! They are not around anymore, period! Those
guys who didn't come back were heroes -- every one of them. (CURLY NORRIS - 101ST AIRBORNE)
AND SO LADIES AND GENTLEMEN ARE YOU!!!