VETERANS DAY: Remember the History, Remember the Hope

commemoration of the centenary of the great war, USASometimes when I’m working on my fiction writing it’s so easy to become absorbed in the world you’ve created or, in the case of my current project, the history of the time period in which you are writing, that current events actually seem more distant.

My newer work-in-progress deals with the last year of World War I and the year or so following the end of that conflict. So, I’ve been absorbed in books, online articles and documentaries about the war–exploring everything from it’s causes and impacts on the world to innovative killing technologies and their severe impact on the men and women involved.

going over the top trenchesWhile most wars tend to generate evolutions in defensive designs and offensive weapons technology, the historical timing and global nature of this war saw the rapid production and development of weapons on an industrial scale. Unfortunately, it took some time (if ever) for the tacticians to adjust to the killing power of the new technologies and casualties in single battles were often of a number rarely seen across entire wars.

Chemical agents were used for the first time. Bombardments often used tens of thousands–and sometimes hundreds of thousands–of shells. “Shellshock”–what we now refer to as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)–was more pervasive and debilitating than in any previous conflict.

Because of the enormity of the loss–the enormity of the suffering–it was commonly dubbed ‘The Great War” or “The War to End All Wars.” With the end of the war, some world leaders saw an opportunity–a chance to create an international body to support alternate, non-violent means of conflict resolution and to punish nations that did not abide by the new normal. The lofty dream of the League of Nations fell apart almost immediately and was but a distant memory by the eve of a much larger conflict just twenty years later.

armistice-daySo, while doing my book research I was struck by how relevant this may be for today–especially since the date for Veteran’s Day in the United States is what many in Europe and the UK refer to (and what our holiday was originally called) as Armistice Day. Our American holiday is typically clarified as a celebration of living veterans–with Memorial Day being the holiday with which we honor those who gave their lives for our country. Yet still, I could not shake the historical link to Armistice Day, the men and women sacrificed and that brief dream of hope.

What an honor it would be for veterans–living and dead–for the world to renew that hope with a vigor befitting their sacrifices–to choose peace, negotiation, consensus and compromise as the preferred solutions to international conflict. What an honor to the millions–the lost generation–that gave their lives if we could truly remember the “War to End All Wars” as the historical genesis of something current, something positive and something larger.

 

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~ by kipwkoelsch on November 11, 2018.

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