It has been a century since WWI. What have we learned?

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It was called the Great War and the War to End All Wars, and most people today have no clue. The last veteran of that war was Frank Buckles who passed away several years ago. It was World War I. We are at the 100th anniversary of that war — and could it be possible that we are teetering on the precipice of another major global conflagration?

Funny thing how history has a way of repeating itself in that Woodrow Wilson was an Ivy League educated progressive president with an administration replete with academics. I guess it would be laughable if the situation were not so dire. I wonder if Wilson was a big golfer and fundraiser?

Somehow the world stumbled into the Great War because of Serbian separatists assassinating the Archduke of Austria Ferdinand and his wife. The 27th of July 1914 was the official beginning of World War I and so here we are 100 years later — what have we learned?

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As the World War I Centennial site recounts, “America reluctantly entered World War I in 1917. We entered a war that was deadlocked. Opposing armies were dug in, facing each other in trenches that ran nearly 500 miles across northern France—the notorious western front. Two million Americans volunteered for the Army, and nearly three million were drafted. More than 350,000 African-Americans served, in segregated units. For the first time, women were in the ranks, nearly 13,000 in the Navy as Yeoman (F) (for female) and in the Marines. More than 20,000 women served in the Army and Navy Nurse Corps. The first contingent of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), commanded by General John J. Pershing reached France in June, but it took time to assemble, train, and equip a fighting force. By spring 1918, the AEF was ready, first blunting a German offensive at Belleau Wood. It was there that our U.S. Marine Corps earned the infamous name of “Devil Dogs” from the Germans.”

“Almost three years of horrific fighting resulted in huge losses, but no discernable advantage for either side. American involvement in the war was decisive. Within eighteen months, the sheer number of American “doughboys” added to the lines ended more than three years of stalemate. Germany agreed to an armistice on November 11, 1918. Two million men in the American Expeditionary Force went to France. Some 1,261 combat veterans—and their commander, General Pershing—were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest award for extraordinary heroism. Sixty-nine American civilians also received the award.”

The American World War I Museum is located in Kansas City, Missouri and there will be a series of remembrances there and throughout the nation. If you are near a World War I memorial take your children. If not, at least take the time to teach them of a horrific war. As from me, I would recommend famed British war historian John Keegan’s “The First World War” as a comprehensive read.

World War I saw the advent of many new war technologies. The machine gun changed the course when it came to massive human wave attacks. The horse cavalry and static line defenses would be replaced with the introduction of the beast called the “tank.” Chemical weapons were used. And with the newly found capability of air combat, fighter aircraft made their introduction and we learned a new term, “Fighter Aces.”

World War I set the stage for World War II and many of the famed Generals and figures who played the role in the second great war were battle-tested in the first. As for my history as a future U.S. Army officer, I found pride in the distinguished service and history of the first black regiment to serve in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) the famed “Harlem Hellfighters” 369th Infantry Regiment. Proud men who joined the lineage of the 54th Massachusetts, 9th and 10th Calvary Regiments, “Buffalo Soldiers” who paved a way for me.

I hope you’ll take the time to learn more about World War I with this short video.

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