It is hard to believe that this November 11 – Veteran’s Day – marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. Looking back to our “younger days” in Jersey City, we had the opportunity to meet many who had served in “The Great War.” Some were “doughboys;” others had enlisted in European armies. we listened to the stories that those veterans old, most of them in their late 60s or early 70s, about their harrowing combat experiences in “no man’s land;” separated by the endless miles of barbed wire and trenches that scarred the Western Front, or on the mountain ridges along the Austrian-Italian border.
Imperial Germany’s policy of “unrestricted submarine warfare,” The sinking of U.S. vessels, and a German proposal to Mexico to join the Central Powers (the Zimmermann note) were the catalysts that sparked the United States to enter the war. The United States was involved in World War I for a little less than two years. Congress declared war on April 6, 1917, and Germany agreed to an armistice on November 11, 1918.
We suppose that World War I pales in comparison to the dedications and monuments commemorating The Second World War. Hollywood has preserved its spin — its adaptation — of World War II. In contrast, films about WWI are limited. For that reason, Gommecourt, Thiepval, Mametz Wood and French Verdun just don’t seem to resonate as well as Normandy, Anzio, Midway, Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima.
The map of the world changed after the First World War. The Russian, German, Austrian-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires became defunct; independent nations were curved out from those anachronistic empires. The League of Nations, the forerunner to the United Nations, was created to maintain world peace. Unfortunately, “war guilt,” heavy (costly) war reparations and a failed economy caused the Germans to look toward National Socialism for answers. The League of Nations eventually collapsed when Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan withdrew from it in the 1930s. The “League” was unable to curtail the aggressiveness of the Axis Powers.
World War I was supposed to have been the “War to end all Wars.” Regrettably, World War I served as a grim prelude to what would follow in the years ahead.
Very respectfully yours,
John Di Genio and Albert J. Cupo