View Full Version : 100 Years

Keith Wilson
11-11-2018, 11:14 AM
The divide between the old age and the new, between optimism, even grandiosity, and empire on one side, and dark disillusionment on the other. The US only got a small dose; and most Americans don't understand how important it was.

Wilfred Owen was killed on the western front on 4 November 4, 1918, a week before the Armistice. His mother got the telegram on Armistice Day, as the church bells in Shrewsbury were ringing in celebration.

The Parable of the Old Man and the Young
Wilfred Owen, 1893 - 1918

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
and builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

Rudyard Kipling's son John really wanted to sign up, but had bad eyesight, and wasn't eligible. His father knew some people, pulled some strings, and got him a commission. He went missing at the battle of Loos in 1913; it took his parents three years to figure out what had happened to him. Here's the poem, set to music.


11-11-2018, 11:19 AM
Read John Keegan's book about the Great War. Staggering.

11-11-2018, 05:12 PM
Dulce et decorum est pro Halliburton mori.


11-11-2018, 06:20 PM
When I was a boy, one of the regular customers at my families vacation cottage rental business was an old blind man. He came for two weeks every Summer with his spinster sister who took care of him. He was a sweet man, always with a smile on his face. He loved to sit in the sun on the dock in front of his cottage, listening to the Yankees games on the radio.

His name was Nelson, and he was a great favorite of my Dad. Pop had even built special handrails around that particular dock, just to keep him safe. Whenever Dad was working near their place he would always stop and spend some time talking with the old guy, Yankee fans to the end, they both would have bled pinstripes if they were cut.

One day at dinner, (I think in 1968) Dad told us that Nelson had shared something special with him. While just talking about any old thing, he had gone silent for a bit, and then he said, "Bill, you know I was blinded 50 years ago today." He went on to say that he was in a trench with two of his best friends. There hadn't been any incoming fire for a while, and they were laughing and joking with each other. Then -- boom. He woke in a hospital bed in the dark -- lights out forever. One of his buddies lost both legs and one arm, the other was killed outright, he called himself "the lucky one."

That story made such an impression on me, as I had always been fascinated by WW1, but I had no idea he was a wounded veteran. To learn that wonderful man was fifty years blind due to the war, and with never a hint of bitterness or self pity just amazed me. I think I learned something from that, and I carry it with me still, and especially today.