Tuesday, July 29, 2014

World War I

Several news articles this last week have noted the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the Great War, the War to End All Wars. Well, we know that last one didn't stick.

The museum in Kansas City is supposedly the only museum in the country exclusively devoted to World War I, and it is superbly done. Considering the absolutely terrible events it depicts, the museum can't be described as a "good time," but it is a worthwhile experience.

The War That Changed the World introduced the modern era, eroded the French and British colonial powers and elevated the United States and the US currency to the top of the world's economic and military powers.

Nine million soldiers died in the war, twenty million wounded. Over 1.2 million soldiers were killed or wounded in one battle, the Battle of Somme. The US lost more soldiers to the 1917-1918 flu epidemic than to battle and my paternal grandfather's brother, Bill, never got further than hauling out the dead at Fort Riley (then Camp Riley), Kansas during the war.

Human occupation of this earth was fundamentally altered by that conflict. Fighting was ended by the Armistice signed the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, November 11, 1918 and celebrated today as Veteran's Day. It was Armistice Day for many years. The treaty that succeeded the Armistice, the Treaty of Versailles, punished Germany and set the stage for the rise of Hitler and the onset of WWII.

Unlike the political leaders we have in the US today, it seems that leaders learned from history back then--MacArthur's respect for the culture of Japan and reconstruction, the Marshall plan.

Let us remember.

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