Remembering WWI, the ‘war to end all wars’

By KEITH BALL,

Early this month marked 100 years since the end of the First World War. In American we celebrated it as Veterans Day. 

Many of our allies in that war celebrated it as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day. Regardless of the name of the day, it is a time to pause and reflect on the sacrifices of so many. 

One hundred years is a long time ago, especially considering that it my great-grandfathers generation that fought the Great War. 

Some of my family history research has turned up draft cards and military records of several of my great-grandfathers who fought the war. 

I can only imagine what it was like to leave the simple pre-electricity era family farm in rural Mississippi to travel across an ocean and fight a war in the muddy trenches of the French countryside. 

It is hard to fathom that all the death and destruction of the First World War began with the assassination of an obscure archduke in Sarajevo in June 1914. 

It also marked the beginning of the modern world. The early years of the First World War involved carrier pigeons delivering messages, supplies brought in by oxen, and calvary charges on horseback and camels. 

The later years were fought by tanks, machine guns, submarines, airplanes, and poison gas. America began the world as a largely isolated agricultural nation and emerged an industrial and world power.     

American’s entry into the conflict tipped the scales in favor of the allies. When American entered the war, many nations had been at war for three long years.

The British had suffered appalling casualties fighting the Germans to a standstill, but lacked the power to push Germans back across at Rhine River. 

The French army had experience massive munities and was in a near state of collapse. 

To me, it is hard to study the First World War without feeling sad and confused about it. 

The carnage was on an unimaginable scale and the causes of the war were vague. We should never forget those who fought for our nation in any conflict. 

Let us honor their memory on Veterans Day and every day. 

 

Keith Ball is a graduate of Petal High School, the University of Southern Mississippi, and the Ole Miss School of Law. He is an attorney and lifelong resident of the Friendly City.