Monday, February 28, 2011
World War I is gone from the memory of Americans. Frank Buckles, the last living American veteran of the war to end all wars, has died at age 110. His story is a wonderful one (another), although it is not completely obvious to me why longevity in and of itself should confer so many honorifics. Maybe such extraordinary longevity reminds us that our country is yet young. After all, Buckles lived for 47% of the existence of the United States.
History is in the hands of those who seek not to learn from the past, but to project upon the past the notions of today. Thus all the politically correct filtering that ignores certain classes of events and promotes the role of currently favored groups.
Even before this ugly trend blossomed, there was too little study directed at the enormous significance of the Great War. There are many people who make a hobby of Civil War study, and WWII still captures everyone's imagination. But the Great War set the world in motion in ways we are still dealing with, yet never truly discuss.
Perhaps because the influence of this War was most evident outside America's borders, it never captured the American imagination in the same way. Yet my grandfather set out for Over There, and over here some relatives had to change their names because their given names were "too German-sounding" and they suffered real discrimination, despite being many years and even second generation Americans.
RIP Mr Buckles, I salute you and your now-passed generation.
The Bronx Victory Memorial is a grand statute that sits in a park I used to frequent as a Dazed and Confused teenager. Picture here. It was dedicated back in 1933 in honor of the nearly 1,000 Bronx men who had died in "the Great World War." That's literally how the plaque reads ... they never thought there could be a sequel.
There's another small statute with similar wording over on the other side of The Bronx.
There must be hundreds of such memorials with similar wording all over Europe.