November 11th, a Day to Remember Fallen Women & Men Who Fought the Good Fight
A son of Cleveland, Ohio, who graduated from West Point, and subsequently died in peacetime of anguish over his fallen friends, sent us this note in 2006, and we revisit it today, Veteran's Day, also known as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day: Saturday, November 11, 2006
Dear Family –
11/11/1918 on the eleventh hour – the end of WWI.
Today is Armistice Day, or Veterans’ Day as we call it now. Mom, thank you very much for your reminder earlier today. Last weekend, I had the honor of being with several West Point classmates down in Portland. One is a doctor who had returned days earlier from a 1 year tour in Iraq, where he ran the hospitals in the northern half of the country. The stories he told of heroism and sadness – I don’t know how to describe them. Sobering, motivating, enlightening. Thank God that the field medicine today is better than in WWI – the supposed “war to end all wars.” In Iraq, they treat insurgents, civilians and US service personal alike – no questions asked.
Please remember today, say a prayer, for those who have done our country service. The US is indeed imperfect, but I have yet to learn of a better model.
WWI ended 88 years ago today. 8.5 million combatants – not to mention civilians – died in this war. In the Battle of the Somme alone, on the first day of 1 July 1916, the British suffered 57,009 casualties (20,000 dead Brits in 1 day). By the time the battle ended a couple of weeks later, 1.1 million – yes million – were casualties among the British, French and Germans. Imagine the impact in the UK – just think about this. Up to 95% of the young men between the ages of 18 and 25 were dead from entire towns and villages, as they all enlisted together in units which organized them by where they came from. A generation wiped out.
Think about where you live – your town or city. Can you imagine this? 95% of the young men gone forever.
If you ever get to France and want to go to Normandy – do not. Go to the Somme. I have been to both, and I truly respect both. However, the Somme is a much, much more tragic and sobering place. And it is closer to Paris.
Not trying to depress you, but rather to not let the memory die.
Obviously, WWI was not to “War to end All Wars.” War will go on forever. But please take a moment to remember those who have given their lives so that you may live today in comfort and safety.
Below is a well know poem – please read it.
Love – Bill
In Flanders Fields By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army
IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow Between the crosses row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.