Santa Barbara Honors Veterans Day

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Parachute Jumpers celebrating Veteran's Day on Saturday in Santa Barbara (Photos: Patti Gutshall)

By Ernie Salomon

Sunday, Nov 11th, is Veterans Day and the 100th Anniversary marking the end of WWI.  (It was formerly called Armistice Day).  The carnage officially ended on Nov 11th. 1918 @ 11 AM. The eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour.
 
Germany and Austria started the war and before it was over, almost 10 million soldiers were killed,  along with 21 million wounded and 10 million civilians killed.
 
This is a little-known fact about WWI: Though Germany and Austria started the war, not one shot was fired in either country, nor one civilian in either in these two countries was killed. 
 
The war was fought in Europe, the Middle East, China and Africa. About 65 million troops were involved on both sides!
 
My father fought in the German Army as a heavy machine gunner during WWI in both the Eastern and Western Fronts and was gassed on the Western Front at the age of 20.  He died from the effects of chlorine and mustard gas at the age of 53.  He took arsenic drops his entire life after the gassing to combat the red blotches all over his body from the gas and arsenic is carcinogenic. I still have my dad's Iron Cross and the supporting document.  It was issued on November 30, 1918

Alan Seeger, an American poet who fought and died in World War I during the Battle of the Somme, wrote one of the great war poems of all time. He was the uncle of American folk singer Pete Seeger, and was a classmate of T.S. Eliot at Harvard. He is best known for the poem, I Have a Rendezvous with Death, a favorite of President John F. Kennedy. A statue representing him is on the monument in the Place des États-Unis, Paris, honoring fallen Americans who volunteered for France during the war.

I Have a Rendezvous with Death

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.
 
It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.
 
God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where Love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear ...
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

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ACF Nov 12, 2018 12:55 PM
Santa Barbara Honors Veterans Day

Correction: The 1919 flu epidemic started in the U.S. (in the Midwest) in a military base, then spread worldwide. Gina Kolata has written a fascinating book on this flu.

EastBeach Nov 12, 2018 09:55 AM
Santa Barbara Honors Veterans Day

That's an interesting notion. Had Germany won WWI and not had to pay reparations and see their economy trashed, could that have prevented the Nazis from rising to power? And if so, what would have been the fate of the Kaiser's government? Some historians and commentators have explored that thought experiment, for example ........ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/25/if-germans-won-first-world-war

Flicka Nov 12, 2018 09:49 AM
Santa Barbara Honors Veterans Day

Unfortunately, an incredible amount of soldiers died of the Influenzas sweeping the world. In many cases it was spread by soldiers returning home with the illness.

RHS Nov 12, 2018 09:33 AM
Santa Barbara Honors Veterans Day

This truncated history is a bit misleading. The start of WWI was the assassination of a member of the Austrian royal family by Serb nationalists. Austria declared war on Serbia. The various treaties then in existence escalated the events so that one domino fell after another and "world war" was soon in place. Still, if the implication of the piece is that the Austrians and Germans were the bad guys it is worth noting that the Germans, at least, had a social system in place by the start of the war that was better for its people than did, for example, the UK. The demonization of the "Krauts" was WWI propaganda. The US should have never gone into the war. Had the Germans won things would not have been any worse than the results of the "Allies" victory.

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