On the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month, WWI mercifully came to a halt. We honor it with Remembrance Day. Above, that is me standing in front of Russia’s version of the Unknown Soldier & Eternal Flame outside the Kremlin walls.
I picked this photo for a reason because last week was also the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution which was a direct result of WWI. Personally, I think it was probably the greatest geopolitical event of the 20th Century for it lead to the USSR – the threat Hitler most feared – the falling of Eastern Europe, the Cold War and so much more that I can’t list. All because an Archduke was assassinated on a street in Sarajevo. No less than half-dozen Empires fell for good as a result of the war. There use to be a plaque on the corner where the assassination took place, I assume it is still there though doubt many take note.
WWI should’ve warned the world what the consequences of conflict lead to but the world never heeded the warning. Gertrude Stein called that generation ‘The Lost Generation’ because so many were doomed in trenches sprawling from Flanders to the Alps to Belarus to Damascus. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
There were battles in which 100,000 men a minute were mowed down. Chemical weapons were used. Hitler was gassed – many feel this is the moment that permanently warped his brain. Pilots fought in the sky for the first time. We can see Snoopy at our cinemas re-enacting his search for the Red Baron but in that war, the Red Baron was strafing his opponents at a record pace for real. An unknown genius from England led the Arabs against their Ottoman masters and we’re all still slugging that one out.
Disease was spread in the form of the Swine Flu pandemic. Soldiers returning home helped spread it around the globe, killing anywhere from 20 million to 100 million in its wake. I had relatives die in its wake. In one of their counties, even the corner died and fill-ins had to sign the death certificates.
So, take a moment today and reflect on the price paid then and the lessons of that war. Pay that generation respect. Next time some hawk jumps up and says, “We need to show those *&*^%!” take another pause and recall this day a second time. There is a lesson to learn.