World War I was raging 100 years ago. We may think of this conflict as being so long forgotten that it does not matter, fought by men who were imprisoned in the trenches they created, having no impact on our modern culture.
The truth, however, is rather the opposite. Millions of families only have to go back a couple of generations to list multiple members who were involved in that conflict, fighting and dying on the hillsides of France, where the countryside was littered with countless corpses from both sides in a struggle that can only be described as being beyond carnage.
Long before we had recognized post-traumatic stress disorder, we welcomed back veterans whose lungs were savagely damaged by encounters with poison gas, who had legs blown off and we watched as they drank themselves to an early death. We honored the fallen by remembering their sacrifices, celebrating the freedom that we believed they helped ensure, and by keeping their names alive in our families.
The end of World War I was made official at the Treaty of Versailles, in which the Allies inflicted great humiliation upon Germany. This humiliation then set the wheels in motion for a demagogue to rise to power and ultimately plunge the world into the next great conflict. Let’s hope we learn our history lessons as we honor the fallen from that Great War.