The Month of Remembrance for World War 1

As I work with the Warrior Dead, the Military Dead among Them, this month has become something of an education.  This year is the 100th Anniversary of World War 1.  We do not talk much about World War 1, if at all.  If it is mentioned, it is often talked about and pointed to as a cause of World War 2, rather than a massive, world-wide war in and of itself.  Otherwise, the poem of In Flander’s Fields 1, and novel All Quiet on the Western Front 2 is given mention, hinting at the devastation and brutality of it.  Yet the First World War’s full impact, its actual history, is not often spoken of let alone taught.  Oh, there are highlights that might be spoken about, such as Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, or the horrors of trench warfare, or the invention and use of widespread chemical warfare.  Yet, World War I does not fit easily into any narrative.  Even the very pro-British pro-war documentary from the BBC, The Necessary War 3 admits several times throughout that all the nations that were part of The Great War had faults with how the it came to pass and spiraled so deeply out of control from what could have been a regional conflict into a conflagration that spared no one it touched.  It saw the last of the old-style monarchies in Europe fall, and several Empires were consumed in its flames.

It is estimated4 that sixteen million people died during this War.  Sixteen million.  Of those deaths, about 9.7 million were military and 6.8 million were civilians.  As PBS notes, “World War I marked the first use of chemical weapons, the first mass bombardment of civilians from the sky, and the century’s first genocide…”5.  It also marked a time when artillery, rather than being front-line gun placements, were relegated to behind friendly lines and used as weapons to clear the way for or defend against infantry advancement6.

Some resources I am looking at are PBS’s The Great War, having just watched the BBC’s The Necessary War.  I am currently working through the 8-part series from PBS, The Great War and the Shaping of the 21st Century.  I have found and have yet to start digging into the 28 part 1964 BBC Documentary Series The Great War.  This BBC article addresses some myths about The Great War from the British angle.  I am still looking for good, reliable history books on the subject to read.

As I work my way through these documentaries, I will write on my reflections, and when I have enough for an article I will post here.  If anyone reading this wants to share the stories of their Military Dead, please do.  If you want to explore the series with me, whether as I post or through email, I am starting Episode 1 tonight.

The First World War and the Korean War are two I have seen referenced as ‘forgotten wars’.  I believe we owe it to the Warrior and Military Dead, as well as any of our Ancestors who may have been part of these conflicts, to remember them.  Remembering them not in snippets, or as “World War 2 was the good war and World War 1 was the stupid one”, but each in their own place and time, seeing them, and those who participated in them.  At the very least those who gave their lives, or those whose lives were violently ripped apart during this War, should be remembered.  Entire generations, if not branches of families, were lost to this War.  The Military Dead deserve, at the very least, a place in our memories.

I am starting this month of prayers and honoring of the Warrior and Military Dead by cutting out my biggest distraction.  For me, this means completely cutting myself off from video games.  It is the least I can do; soldiers certainly did without a great many creature comforts I have come to enjoy as a matter of modern life.  I will be spending my extra time doing other things, such as reading, writing, and doing devotional work for the Warrior and Military Dead.  I will also be attending the graves of the local Military Dead and making offerings.

May the Warrior Dead and Military Dead never be forgotten.  May They be remembered.  May Their sacrifices ever be remembered.  May Their lives be marked.  May offerings for Them be made.  May Their memories live on.  Hail the Warrior Dead!  Hail to the Military Dead!

 

 

References

1  In Flander’s Fields. (2014).  The Great War website.  Retrieved 2:48, Nov 03, 2014, from http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/john-mccrae-in-flanders-fields.htm

2  All Quiet on the Western Front.  (2014).  Amazon book website. Retrieved 2:50, Nov 03, 2014, from http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DAD25O8?btkr=1#

3  The Necessary War. (2014).  Youtube.com website.  Retrieved 2:45, Nov 03, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pg5LWHQYIrY

4  World War I casualties. (2014.)  Wikipedia.com website. Retrieved 3:03, Nov 03, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_casualties

5  WWI Casualty and Death Tables. (2014.)  PBS.org The Great War website. Retrieved 02:58, Nov 3, 2014, http://www.pbs.org/greatwar/resources/casdeath_pop.html

6  The Necessary War. (2014).  Youtube.com website.  Retrieved 2:45, Nov 03, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pg5LWHQYIrY

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  1. November 3, 2014 at 7:42 am

    The Military and Warrior Dead are also of particular focus for me this month. On November 11th I will sit down at the Cenotaph in Vancouver, BC with my son and my mother. We have been going steadily since I was a child. My Maternal Grandfather fought in WW2, I cannot count or name the Ancestors on my paternal side who are Military and Warrior Dead. My Father is a member of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada and will be in the March and Ceremony that happen. He is retired from the army now but usually leads the local Veterans in the March. I avidly await hearing your thoughts on the subject over the month.
    Hail the Glorious Dead!

    • November 3, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      Thank you for sharing your family’s story with me. I wish we had more of a tradition here in the States of sitting with our Dead, or as the case with the Cenotaph, representations of our Dead.

      I am in much the same position as you: I cannot count or name the Ancestors in my family who are Warrior or Military Dead. I think one of the great losses is that of knowing our families, and this lack of knowledge is something I hope I can fix before my own grandparents pass on.

      I am into Episode 3 of the PBS Documentary now, and my big reflection so far has been, again and again, there is so much we are not taught about this War. It is a travesty. It is a travesty that so many who died, military and civilian, are forgotten. It is a travesty that a War that helped shape our modern world, from the collapse of Empires and monarchies, to the rise of many nations, many of which were founded by imperial-democratic powers, has largely been forgotten in the public consciousness. I think it is easier for America to do so since we entered The Great War so late, and unfortunately, as is often the case in history, where we are not, our education for our students lacks.

      I hope that this series of posts helps open folks’ eyes to the Warrior Dead and Military Dead. I hope that folks begin to develop cultus, praise, veneration, and worship for not only their own Warrior and Military Dead, but that of others.

      Hail the Glorious Dead!

  2. November 3, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Reblogged this on A Matter of Faith.

  3. November 3, 2014 at 10:20 am

    “Remembering them not in snippets… but each in their own place and time, seeing them, and those who participated in them.” This is beautifully said. Thank you for writing on this topic for us. I look forward to hearing what you discover. Our military dead–direct ancestors or not–deserve our recognition and respect, and this is a beautiful way of doing just that.

    • November 3, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      Thank you. I hope that by doing this little bit I can help to honor Them, and bring awareness of Them to more people.

  4. Claire Pattison Valente
    November 6, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Lovely post, you might find this link helpful. http://www.iwm.org.uk/ follow the links to W.W.1 Obviously the emphasis is from the British angle but not completely. They also do a series of podcasts that tell the story of WW1 in the words of those who were there, I haven’t listened to them all yet but those I have heard are very interesting. http://www.iwm.org.uk/corporate/projects-partnerships/voices-of-the-first-world-war.

    • November 6, 2014 at 11:35 am

      Thank you, I will check those links out.

  1. November 30, 2014 at 7:41 am

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