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How The War Overlooked In History Books Changed The Course Of America
The solemn remembrance of the 100th anniversary of World War I began last August in Europe. Dignitaries met and laid wreaths at national monuments and cemeteries; the Tower of London was surrounded by 888,246 ceramic poppies, commemorating each British soldier to die in the war.
The Great War, as it is often called, stands starkly in European memory. Small monuments to the dead can be found in almost every single European town and city. They are usually very plain and simple, not ornate, as memorials of past wars often were. For Europe, World War I was a traumatic event that ripped whole societies apart. An entire generation of young men vanished in the horrors of the battlefield, falling to disease, poison gas, machine gun bullets, and artillery shells. The very first “modern war” persisted on for four brutal years, from 1914 to 1918, claiming over eight million lives. It is therefore easy to see why the centennial ceremonies are somber rather than celebratory.
While World War I looms large in European memory, it usually merits only a few scant pages in American history textbooks. In the United States, World War I is only “another war we won” and is often seen as a prelude to World War II. U.S. involvement in the war lasted just over a year, from 1917 to 1918, with the majority of fighting in the spring, summer, and fall of 1918. Although quite a few towns have World War I monuments, most people cannot name World War I campaigns and battles, let alone why and when U.S. service members fought overseas.
Over 53,000 U.S. personnel died in battle in World War I, while another 63,000 died of disease and other causes. For only one year of military involvement, these statistics are shocking and drive home why the centennial of the war needs to be remembered in the U.S.Far from being a minor event in American history, World War I was a watershed event for the nation in many regards. One, it dragged America out of isolationism. Ever since the founding of the nation, Americans were reluctant to get involved in European affairs. Much of this sentiment came from George Washington’s Farewell Address, where he said,
It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.
This became national policy through the 19th century, although it was acceptable practice for the U.S. to intervene in affairs in North, South, and Central America. Although by 1914 the U.S. controlled its own territories in the Pacific (the Philippines and the Virgin Islands), there was great reluctance to get involved in the conflict in Europe. However, through French and British diplomacy, as well as fears that Germany was going to invade Mexico and attack the U.S. from the south, public opinion slowly grew for greater intervention in Europe. When a German submarine sank the civilian ocean liner RMS Lusitania in 1915 killing more than 120 Americans, public opinion toward Germany soured even more. Continued submarine warfare against neutral vessels proved the last straw, and the U.S. entered the war against Germany and her allies on Jan. 31, 1917.
Far from home, U.S. troops fought on the front lines alongside war-weary allies who were astonished at the vigor and tenacity that U.S. service members brought with them. The U.S. commitment to the war broke the back of German resistance and brought the belligerent nations to the peace treaty table by November 1918. Americans quickly made names for themselves at places like Cambrai, Cantigny, Château-Thierry, Belleau Wood, St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne. Americans fought, bled, and died for yards in horrific fighting. During the Champagne-Marne Offensive in July 1918, National Guard troops from New England occupied the site of Belleau Wood, where U.S. Marines had gained renown the month prior. Attempting to dig entrenchments, the New Englanders were shocked to discover that not a single foot of ground could be excavated without revealing shallow-buried bodies from the previous month’s fighting. Troops endured near-constant bombardment by heavy artillery and poison gas. Their war was truly hellish.When the troops came home, they were greeted by cheering crowds and parades in every city and town across the nation. It was not an easy transition for men who had just come out of some of the fiercest fighting in history. African-American troops, who had fought honorably and won the gratitude of Allied leaders, came back to a cool welcome from a nation that still could not see past the color of their skin. Men were haunted by what they had seen and done. Shell shock was common, what we would now recognize as post-traumatic stress disorder. My own research through several hundred requests for discharge paperwork in the 1920s show many cases of suicides and men driven to insanity. Veteran service organizations like the American Legion grew out of the need to care for so many of these men affected by the war and give them a voice.
If for nothing else, World War I should be remembered by Americans because of the brave sacrifices that these men made on foreign fields so that nations could be free and live in peace. As we approach 2017, the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entrance into the Great War, I encourage all Americans to learn more about the war and take part in events in their communities. The World War I Centennial Commission is the official organization that is planning events for 2017, and coordinating with cities and towns across the U.S. to remember America’s involvement in the war. Please take part. No fallen service member should go unremembered.
Former Marine Commandant tells Trump that pardoning troops accused of war crimes 'relinquishes the moral high ground'
Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak has issued a statement urging President Donald Trump and members of Congress to oppose pardons for those accused or convicted of war crimes since, he argued, it would "relinquish the United States' moral high ground."
"If President Trump follows through on reports that he will mark Memorial Day by pardoning individuals accused or convicted of war crimes, he will betray these ideals and undermine decades of precedent in American military justice that has contributed to making our country's fighting forces the envy of the world," said Krulak, who served in the Marine Corps for more than three decades before retiring in 1999 as the 31st Commandant.
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Associated Materials. Committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, Associated Materials Incorporated is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.
Associated Materials, a residential and commercial siding and window manufacturer based in Ohio, employs people from a variety of backgrounds. The company gives them an opportunity to work hard and grow within the organization. For Tim Betsinger, Elizabeth Dennis, and Tanika Carroll, all military veterans with wide-ranging experience, Associated Materials has provided a work environment similar to the military and a company culture that feels more like family than work.
President Donald Trump will nominate Barbara Barrett to serve as the next Air Force secretary, the president announced on Tuesday.
"I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force," Trump tweeted. "She will be an outstanding Secretary! #FlyFightWin"
The Trump administration is trying to assure Congress that it does not want to start a war with Iran, but some lawmakers who fought in Iraq are not so sure.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford both briefed Congress on Tuesday about Iran. Shanahan told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. military buildup in the region has stopped Iran and its proxies from attacking U.S. forces, but the crisis is not yet over.
"We've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans," Shanahan said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East, and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone.
"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."