No, the Biblical quote is not in refence to 2020, the Rona, or the election, but rather to another, more distant time. In a few days, it will be 102 years since the guns fell silent and the Great War drew to its final, bloody close. As I am engaged in writing a novel set during this time, but on the Eastern Front, I paused for a bit today to reflect on what this war meant for the world then as well as now. Here in the States, the First World War often gets very little, if any, attention. There are reasons for that which need not detain us here, but none of those reasons can dismiss the significance of the events themselves.
If you were to ask me who the most important figure in the 20th Century was, I would not say Hitler, or Churchill, or FDR. No, in my humble opinion, the most important figure in the 20th Century was a nineteen year old young man who fired two bullets on a street corner in Sarajevo on June 25, 1914. Gavrilo Princip, with those two shots, altered the course of human history and ushered in a new, more modern, and more terrifying age.
Because of those two shots, young men from Australia and New Zealand traveled halfway around the world to die on the beaches of Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire. Because of those two shots, empires collapsed. Russia was plunged into the bloody nightmare of revolution and civil war, only to see the rise of a new communist Russia, which along the United States, battled for global supremacy from the end of World War Two until the 1990s. Because of those two shots, over a million men from India would travel to fight on the African Front, in the Middle East, and in France.
Because of those two shots, mankind invented new and creative ways to kill one another with poison gas and tanks and flamethrowers. Because of those two shots, men slaughtered one another wholesale for four years. Because of those two shots, societies, not just armies, turned on one another. Because of those two shots, young men took to the skies in brightly painted aircraft and did their best to incinerate one another.
Because of those two shots, the world had to learn to cope with millions of men who survived the shells, but as Remarque said, “were destroyed by the war.” Because of those two shots, the world would never be the same.
Dear Reader, though many tend to think of World War 2 as being the pivotal event in 20th Century history, one must remember that the second war grew out of lingering issues left over from the first. As much as people sincerely hoped that the great calamity of the early century would be the “war to end all wars,” human nature would not cooperate. So if you live in the States and are used to Nov. 11th being celebrated as “Veterans Day”, remember that it originally marked the end of the First World War and was “Armistice Day.” In the countries of the British Commonwealth, it is celebrated as “Remembrance Day.” If you haven’t already seen it, check out my First World War tribute video here.
Until next time, friends, take care of yourselves. And each other.