A Century Ago the Guns Fell Silent

16,000,000 dead - military and civilians.

A permanent Zone Rouge of poisoned and uninhabitable land in France.

An Iron Harvest of century-old ordnance every year.

Human remains still regularly uncovered.

The lost villages of France, where people had lived and loved for centuries, gone.

Four empires collapsed in turmoil.

New countries and new ideologies arose.

Unresolved tensions and a second round, 20 years later.

The dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East.

It shaped our current world.

16,000,000 dead
In Flanders Fields,
The poppies blow
Between the crosses
Row on row
Which mark our place.
And in the sky, the larks,
Still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amidst 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.

16,000,000 dead.

Jesus wept.

And I can’t help but wonder oh Willy McBride
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you the cause?
Did you really believe that this war would end wars?
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
The killing and dying it was all done in vain
Oh Willy McBride it all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again


“The Unknown Soldier” by Billy Rose. It’s rather remarkable to me for having some bitter sentiment, no usual for the day and time.

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone.

And one of the great efforts seen from Youtube, Indiana Neidell’s The Great War, teaching about the war in installments about what took place in a week 100 years ago, is in their last chapters.

Armistice - But Peace? I THE GREAT WAR Week 225

The guns were not silent for long…

As one would expect, no veterans of the war live among us anymore. The memory is distant, the images faded, the names of some people and places may as well belong to a book of fantasy… “archdukes”, really?

Social and cultural structures were shaken to their foundations, setting the table for the unimaginably worse toll of suffering to come. Borders drawn and promises broken in its aftermath continue to be cause for conflict today. That may be the worst broken faith.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

(glass raised)
Lest We Forget**

You should read some of Sassoon’s poems for contemporary bitter sentiment:

There’s “On Passing the New Menin Gate”:

and “Suicide in the Trenches”

Has anyone watched Peter Jackson’s BBC documentary They Shall Not Grow Old ?

This may be the best film ever made of the authentic experiences of soldiers in WWI - balanced, and not always what you might expect.

I was a bit dubious about the restoration of silent films, and adding colour and sound, but it works exceptionally well.


A four minute scene of British thoughts on German soldiers:

Interesting interview with Peter Jackson about making the film:

I saw the movie yesterday at a limited screening, and I agree that it was outstanding. It was amazingly intimate; just bits of footage about unnamed individuals, yet one comes away feeling like one knows them well. It’s striking how committed the movie is to its ground-level perspective – there’s no context, no strategy, just one day following another.

It was amusing how much WWI gear Peter Jackson has at his house. After he provided his uniform collection to advise the colorization, his period magazine collection to fill in gaps in footage, and his artillery pieces to the sound editors, I was halfway expecting him to produce some German soldiers that he’d cloned for purposes of verifying their accents.