Veteran’s Day

In 2012, as we gathered to salute our veterans, and the rest of the Anglosphere gathered to remember their war dead, there was no one to take our salute for the Great War. Florence Green, a member of the Women’s Royal Air Force, died on 4 February 2012 two weeks short of her 111th birthday, at King’s Lynne. She was the very last veteran of World War I. And so, while we remember them, never again will we see them on this side.

Maybe it’s just as well, they likely wouldn’t be impressed with the mess we have made on both sides of the Atlantic. But we have an advantage, we have their example for a guide. They were indeed our best, equal in every way to those who came a mere twenty years later, and even in the conflicts, hot and cold, that followed that war. Only a fool thinks there will ever be a war to end all wars.

But 101 years ago, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the war we still call the Great War came to end, first by an armistice and then by treaty. The things left undone in the negotiations would have much to do with the Second World War, but that is nothing to do with the warriors.

Interestingly, it is also Old Michaelmas Day, the day when St Michael the Archangel threw out Devil out of Heaven. St Michael the Archangel is, of course, the leader of the heavenly army that will defeat Satan at the end of days. He is also the Patron of Paratroopers, and some say the Infantry. So a very appropriate day, wonder if they thought of it in 1918.

The date of July 4, 1917 marks a watershed. It was the day that a battalion of the 11th US Infantry marched through Paris, proclaiming “Lafayette, we are here”. A recognition that we owed France much for their help in the Revolution.

It marked a watershed in the war, as the promise of new fresh troops, lifted the morale of the Allies, and hurt that of the Central Powers. But more than that, it was a watershed for America, too. For the first time, we put our soldiers in harm’s way to save other people. The world changed.

It took us till about 1942 before we realized that now we were the leaders of the free world, that the British and the Empire had impoverished themselves in the Great War, and could no longer control events. In 1945, we took that mantle, somewhat unwillingly, but decisively. And thus was born both the Pax Americana and “The American Century”.

And all through the century, our troops have been everything we could have wished, and the best ambassadors America could have wished for. A good many years ago now, Robert Leckie called them “Planetary Soldiers”. It was and is an apt description.

 

Admiral Nimitz rather summed up our armed forces when he said after Iwo Jima:

Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue

About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

2 Responses to Veteran’s Day

  1. the unit says:

    Good picture, and of course blog article. Got to keep our hands on our hip as we work along, like Winston. 🙂
    And aaaah 1942, year of my birth. Just start reading the book ‘1942’. Downloaded from free kindle to read as the cold weather coming my way tomorrow. Only gotten through forward and 1st chapter so far, so not endorsing as yet. Free kindle because of wife’s ‘Prime’. I think it cost others $1.99.
    And I know you don’t normally do book endorsements (did read your last one). Anyways, good start on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

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