Have a remembrance poppy.
Before it was Veterans’ Day, November 11 was celebrated as Armistice Day in the US, and it still is abroad. It marks the signing of the armistice that ended the first World War (on 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918). I heard on the radio that we still have 25 living veterans of WWI in the US. Bless their leathery old hearts, that can’t be true much longer.
But let’s talk about the second one for a sec. Have you ever seen World at War? It’s a British TV series made in 1974 that walks through World War II, step by step, in 26 episodes. You may not think you have 26 hours worth of the Big One in you (30 in the Anniversary Edition), but you do. You really do.
PBS must’ve bought the rights in the late ’70s, because each episode ran several times a week. I was a freshman in college, and it was good enough to keep a bunch of spoiled, self-absorbed decidedly unacademic 18 year old shitheads glued to the TV for six months.
Amazon’s currently got it on DVD for $75 and I’m tempted.
It will help you wrap your head around the sheer scale of death and ruin and waste like nothing else I’ve seen or read. Which helps you wrap your head around modern Europeans. They (or their parents, at least) lived it in a way that only our soldiers shared. And they believe this gives them a special wisdom about war.
We would all agree that the main lesson is: nothing like that must ever be allowed to happen again.
But the typical European has decided that the way you accomplish that is to treat nationalism like a cancer and patriotism as a form of bigotry. That war can be avoided if one refuses to fight and continues to negotiate.
Whereas I look at it and think that we must never again allow a madman to build power That unilateral negotiation with an enemy bent on war is simply another word for surrender and the camps. And that we must never EVER let a psychopath get a nuclear weapon.
And both of us derive our wisdom from watching the World at War, while the generation that lived through it dies away.