WWI Remembrance Day

World War I (WWI)  involved more countries than any other war did before. Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire (the Central Powers) fought against Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Japan and the United States (the Allied Powers). Over 9 million from the military died during this war, and over 7 million men were left disabled for the rest of their lives. It is not surprising at all that the effects of WW1 were still present decades later, it just brought too many consequences. The world would never be the same again, WW1 definitely created an atmosphere and a new place to live that allowed the rise of the Nazi Party and the start of WW2.

We tend to remember past wars for honoring the people who sacrifice themselves for standing up for their country. Those people demonstrated great values that somehow they must be reflected in the society we are living. We must remember wars in a way we feel proud for all of the soldiers that lost their lives, and for remembering that we can get over anything and move forward as a united country.

A way of preventing conflicts that might end in wars, it’s really important to understand what causes it, and what approaches have, and haven’t been successful in the past.

“In Flanders Fields” by John McRae, he is principally focusing on the sacrifices that the soldiers are making for their countries and for the people living in them.

For example:

“Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw the torch;
be yours to hold it high.” (In Flanders Fields by John McRae)

All Quiet on The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, describes the German soldiers’  physical and mental extreme stress during the war, and the detachment from the civilian life felt by many of these soldiers once they return home from the front.

At the sound of the first droning of the shells we rush back, in one part of our being, a thousand years. By the animal instinct that is awakened in us we are led and protected. It is not conscious; it is far quicker, much more sure, less fallible, than consciousness. . . . It is this other, this second sight in us, that has thrown us to the ground and saved us, without our knowing how. . . . We march up, moody or good-tempered soldiers—we reach the zone where the front begins and become on the instant human animals. (chapter 4 – p, 56)

Paul Baümer best describes with this quote, the transformation that soldiers have when heading into battle (psychological and physically). Paul observes his fellow comrades perform this act through battles.  They tend  to become good-tempered men/soldiers, but instead they all become fierce beasts (human animals). To survive the battle, it is necessary that soldiers put aside the thoughtful and analytical part of their minds and lean completely instead on their animal instinct. Paul outlines men who have been walking along and suddenly thrown themselves to the ground just in time to avoid a shell, without having been consciously aware that a shell was approaching and without having the intention to avoid it. Paul calls this behavior a  “second sight” and states that it is the only thing that allows soldiers to survive a battle. We could say that Paul mentions personally  that battles and wars are animalistic, they can bring out the worst of a person, and can wreak on a soldier’s humanity.

If someday I get the opportunity of making a Remembrance Day ceremony, it would be the day the war ended at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month. People would wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who fought and helped in the war. First there would be 2 minutes of silence remembering the people who have died in wars. Then, the recitation of “In Flanders Fields” by John McRae, to commemorate fallen soldiers.  Finally, I would love if a family member of a soldier or the soldier himself gives out a speech, there’s no specific things they have to say, just some words that are born from their hearts.