Ordinary World: Observance


Ordinary World
Monday, 12 Nov 2018

[Ob1] Veterans Day: Stories of Those Who Served, A collection of accounts from active duty and civilian life, through the eyes of the people who lived them.

[Ob2] 100 years on we shall remember them: Britain commemorates its WWI dead “On the 100th anniversary of the Armistice events will take place in every corner of the British Isles to commemorate the sacrifice of a generation during the First World War, which only came to an end at 11am on November 11, 1918, after an almost incalculable loss of life. The numbers still have the power to shock.Between 1914 and 1918, 886,345 UK troops were killed. Another 228,569 troops from the wider British Empire were killed, more than 74,000 of them from India.”

[Ob3] For Turkey, WWI Anniversary Evokes Memories of Defeat: “It is not only the humiliation of Istanbul’s occupation along with much of the country by French, British, Greek, and Italian forces that evokes those sentiments today. The defeat marked the end of the Ottoman Empire and the loss of vast swathes of territory to the British and French, which eventually became modern Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories.
“We have many legacy issues, leftovers from the First World War still influencing Turkish politics, Turkish culture —the trauma of losing an empire,” said Guvenc.”

[Ob4] Armistice Day: How France will commemorate 100 years since the end of WWI: “Several villages were razed to the ground in the battles which led to the end of the war. These include Beaumont-en-Verdunois, Bezonvaux, Cumières-le-Mort-Homme, Fleury-devant-Douaumont; Haumont-près-Samogneux and Louvemont-Côte-du-Poivre, all of which are located in the départment of Meuse.Residents were evacuated at the start of the Battle of Verdun, which raged from February 21st to December 18th 1916, but when they returned they found that everything had been destroyed in the conflict, from houses and buildings to trees and hedges. In 1919, the land was bought by the government and it was decided that the six villages would not be rebuilt or inhabited, but would remain as memorials, each with a mayor and an annual budget to take care of the land.”

[Ob5] 100 years since the WW1 Armistice, Remembrance Day remains a powerful reminder of the cost of war: “On the first Armistice Day, November 11 1918, crowds cheered on the streets of Allied countries such as Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the US, France and Belgium. People rejoiced at the ending of a period of total mobilisation that had affected every aspect of their lives, inflicting unprecedented hardship on soldiers and civilians alike. But for those who had lost the war, the news of the armistice came as a shock. While some were relieved the conflict had ended, the sudden collapse of the German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires provided a breeding ground for revolutionary movements and further internal conflicts. For them, Armistice Day was a moment of anguish and bitterness.”

[Ob6] A quiet respect: Veterans have camaraderie in Collier senior communities: “It’s evident in the rapt attention that veterans Gene Engel and William Woo-Lun give Page as he tells the story about the flag. As Page, a boatswain’s mate in the Navy, tried to replace the flag on his ship in the midst of the typhoon, the wind was shredding the flag, practically “beating us to pieces,” he said. The new flag was easier to hang, since it came in a package. The worn flag has 48 stars because Alaska and Hawaii had yet to be admitted to the Union.”

[Ob7] Veterans tell stories of hope and struggle at Middletown forum: ” People thank Denise Miller’s husband all the time for serving in the armed forces. And several times when she has presented her military benefit card at doctor’s offices, she’s been asked for her husband’s information.
“People don’t think of a veteran as a female,” said Miller, now a Tiverton resident, who graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1994 and served in the Air Force from 1998 to 2006. Her first deployment was to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Southern Watch. She served in security forces and also provided intelligence support. “I’ve had people tell me that females don’t belong in the military,” she said. She has also been told she’s too young to be a veteran.”

[Ob8] Saying their names helps honor the memory of veterans at a ceremony on ASU campus

“The names seemed to float in the air across the lawn, stopping students on their way to class. A few more people slid onto the folding chairs, just 19 of them, set up in the grass.

Marshall Egbert Stewart.

George Sherman Roach.

Elton Stacey Perry.

It was a small gathering, at noon on Thursday, organized by the ASU Alumni Veterans Chapter. Hill is on the board.

Often we honor our military for Veterans Day with big gestures, like parades with color guards and marching bands on city streets and memorial ceremonies in parks and cemeteries. But we do it with small gestures, too.A community breakfast at Tempe High School. A gourd dance at Pueblo Grande Museum. Free haircuts at Great Clips. Golf tournaments and 5K runs. Free coffee at Starbucks. A complimentary donut at Dunkin’. A free Grand Slam breakfast at Denny’s.And in gatherings like this annual reading of the names at ASU, a list of 137 spanning a century and getting longer every year.

Robert Ernest Lackey.

Ralph Blanchard Riggs.

Jack Tracy Trimble.

Hill read the names through World War II, the largest group lost, 72 in all, including the only woman on the list.
Tony Pearl Roomsburg.

Roomsburg was born in Phoenix and graduated in 1942 from ASU, then Arizona State Teacher’s College.

She enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps on Dec. 31, 1943. Private First Class Roomsburg served in British West Africa (the French Ivory Coast, now Ghana), and was transferring to Robert Field, Liberia, on May 30, 1945, when her transport plane went down.

The wreckage was never recovered. Roomsburg was 25.

Jim Geiser, a six-year Marine Corps veteran and the group’s volunteer historian, spent hours over five years researching her story, along with those of the other alumni veterans on the list.

Halfway through, Geiser took Hill’s place at the podium to read, starting with the Korean War.

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Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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24 thoughts on “Ordinary World: Observance

  1. 100 years on and WWI is still powerful in ways older wars were not because, I think, of the presence of photos and movies from the time that showed the horror of it all.

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    • And the books and poetry of the ‘Lost Generation’. It was our first war that had so many surviving veterans speaking of the horror and waste of it, and in ways that hit home even with generations far removed from them. My daughter read “All Quiet on the Western Front” in English last year, and when we talked about it, I remember having all the same feelings and impressions when I read the same book in high school. That was striking since I had a more direct sense of how it affected people at the time because I had been raised by a grandmother who lived through it. I never knew my grandfather on that side, but I knew he just missed the war, having enlisted at 18 just days before it ended.

      (wanted to embed Dropkick Murphys Green Fields of France, but can’t get it to work)

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  2. Ob4: Its very interesting to look at the differences between the end of WWI and WWII. WWII’s end was treated as a celebration by the Allied Powers. Everybody was happy because it was the closest you could get to a battle between good and evil in real life. This is even though Wilhelmine Germany contained the origins of the Nazi thought. Most serious historians recognize that rightist intellectuals in the Kaisereich were laying the ground work for Nazism in the 1890s.

    In contrast, nearly everybody was exhausted at the end of World War I. The Central Powers were naturally bitter from defeat and loss of territory. The Allied powers drained and did not want to celebrate. Even the United States, who suffered much less than any other allied power, really didn’t think they had a victory. We just wanted to forget the Great War right away. Even to this day, it plays much less a role in American popular memory compared to the big four of the Revolution, Civil, WWII, and Vietnam despite
    being the war that made us a global superpower.

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    • The main difference was that in WWI, Germany never surrendered. Also, the first Armistice was preceded by about a month of peace negotiations, and followed by a few more armistice agreements until a peace treaty. It was the negotiated peace that was going to determine how people (at least on the Western Front) were going to judge the war.

      I believe the French view generally is that Keynes’ best-selling book that discredited the peace was most responsible for encouraging a rise in Francophobia in Anglo-America and the inability to contain the renewal of German expansionism.

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        • I don’t know that one can quell aspirations; I think one can resolve the conflict by limiting the capacity for conquest, with things like reductions in armaments, reparations, loss of strategic territory, inspection regimes. I’m not really sure what the administrative capacity for all of this would be in its most optimal form. The main issue is that British opinion decided that the treaty was punitive and assumed that treating Germany as a normal country would be the best path to peace. A ‘trust but verify’ approach would work, but only if it was not just the French holding the line.

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        • Stillwater: What was the right position for Anglo-America to take post WWI? How could those actors have quelled German aspirations for conquest?

          with perfect hindsight, and ironically enough, bring Germany into the liberal democratic fold as a united front against the spread of Bolshevism in the east.

          But the thing is, that was pretty much impossible insofar as the British and French were completely unwilling at that point in history to give up their imperial model of international affairs. It required the second war to permanently alter the balance of power, and even then, they were not willing to let it go without a fight.

          So barring the impossible, the best possible case was probably a more conciliatory and equal peace treaty and especially a minimization of reparations.

          But too many people still had a mercantile view of economics to possibly make any durable peace in 1918.

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      • “never surrendered”. They were just defeated in the field, had their navy scuttle itself in Scapa Flow, the Kaiser abdicated to live in Holland, revolution broke out and all their allies soundly defeated. They went hat in hand to the armistice because they were crushed.

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        • There were no Allied troops on German land, and German troops were spread from France to the Caucuses. The oddity that Germans would be negotiating as other than the more successful military power is what fueled the popular perception in Germany that someone had stabbed Germany in the back.

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          • There were no troops in Germany because they had the good sense to give in before being occupied. However the biggest reason they weren’t invaded is because neither side could advance or retreat very fast at that time. Their great spring offensive had fizzled and then pushed back. They were completely defeated in France and couldn’t run away fast enough to regroup. They were surrendering in droves on the front and mutinying in the ports. The people and troops weren’t revolting because they felt great. And we were pouring in new troops.

            Sure they came up with the stab in the back stuff to explain away their loss is separate thing. That doesn’t mean they hadn’t lost. Plenty of German’s knew they had been defeated, they were there at the time.

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    • ‘winning the peace’ in the post-WW2 years was a closer run thing than I think most people consider. It paradoxically helped that while many were similarly ‘exhausted’ by 1945 as they were by 1918, Germany and Japan were obliterated – at least as a political entity.

      The Cold War kicked off pretty much immediately; reform was able to take root in West Germany and Japan, the way it didn’t for the Wiemar Republic, not only due to the Marshall Plan, but also fear of the Soviets.

      The US did substantially disarm post WW2, with a faction briefly in charge believing that the US nuclear monopoly was the only weapons – and military force – the US needed. It was only after senior military leadership and allies in Congress made a stink that conventional forces began to be built up to their baseline Cold War levels – and then the Korean War with its initial fiascos with completely unready forces solidified that baseline.

      The Cold War never turned hot – that is, white hot, head to head. (There were of course Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc). That was courtesy of an American nation that was indeed exhausted from war when it had a nuclear monopoly, and then a result of everyone fearful (rightly so) of nuke weapons when that monopoly was broken. As it is, the Western Allies nearly lost the peace with an own goal of not being willing to pro-actively decolonize post WW2.

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  3. Thanks to a pointer from Mike Drew, I recently finished the Dan Carlin Hardcore history podcast where he covers World War 1, titled Blueprint for Armageddon.

    People talk enough about the economic parallels between the late gilded age and the current era, and how the war started the process where it all came crashing down. But I feel what’s less talked about, and potentially a more scary parallel, is that the era before World War 1 was a comparatively long period of time where the great powers did not fight head to head – and thus the onset of the war was a meat grinder because no one realized what the then modern tools of war could do.

    I worry that we’ve been in a similarly extended period where the premier militaries of the world haven’t been set against each other, and nobody really knows what everyone is capable of and what consequences of direct conflict may be – potentially more horrific than anyone could imagine.

    There’s of course evidence that nuclear deterrence works, but also of course, it hasn’t been conclusively proven.

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    • I worry that we’ve been in a similarly extended period where the premier militaries of the world haven’t been set against each other, and nobody really knows what everyone is capable of and what consequences of direct conflict may be – potentially more horrific than anyone could imagine.

      The solution, obviously, is for the great powers to engage in wars at regular intervals so everyone knows each other’s capabilities. :)

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