How is it that the war once known as “The Great War” has become the forgotten war?
Many disparate interests have gradually gotten me to think about World War I over the past few years. For example:
- Two of my favorite authors both fought in WWI: J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
- John Becker, my triple-great-uncle, would have served in the Navy during the war, if he hadn’t been murdered.
- The city of Ferguson has a monument in January-Wabash Park to honor its citizens who seved in WWI.
Everything I’ve ever read indicates just how horrible a conflict it was. Tolkien fought in the Battle of the Somme and later caught trench fever. He admitted that some scenes in the “Lord of the Rings,” like the Dead Marshes, were drawn from his experince in northern France. The imagery of these scenes is vivid and repugnant. I can’t imagine how awful the real war must have been.
There is just one living American WWI verteran left: 107-year-old Frank Buckles. I learned this from a recent article in Newsweek, The War We Forgot.
When Buckles dies, another pivotal moment in American history will slip into the ether. Most folks probably wouldn’t realize it. We have no national monument to the veterans of WWI.
I don’t know what, if anything, can be done about it. But it’s something that weighs on my mind.