Apr. 6th, 2017

bradygirl_12: (captain america sunburst)
Today is the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I, the War To End All Wars. Ah, the naivete! But the Americans were desperately needed as the Europeans had been fighting for three years and the shell-shock cases were adding up.

And why wouldn't they be? As a soldier in World War I, trenchfoot was the least of your worries. You were stuck in a trench where you waited for the shell with your name on it, or you were ordered 'over-the-top' into No Man's Land, where you could expect to be cut down by the enemy's machine guns or shells.

You would experience the first tank warfare in modern war, and if an enemy soldier was lucky enough to survive No Man's Land, he could cook you with the first use of flamethrowers in war. But that wasn't even the worst of it! Mustard gas would sear your lungs and damage your skin, and other chemical weapons would just kill you instantly. A trench full of men would be dead in minutes after the first deadly clouds appeared.

All this for a few yards won and lost, and the reason for the war lost, too. The Americans saw their share of horrors, and the Meuse-Argonne was especially rigorous, a true baptism of fire. The Americans who survived the war went home with physical injuries and mental and emotional scars that contemporary medicine was ill-equipped to handle.

World War II was much more spread out over the globe and certainly had its share of horrors, but World War I is almost claustrophobic as conducted, and was a psychic shock as the Utopian optimism of the new century was irrevocably shattered on fields of nightmares.

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