When I was in London in 2004, I stayed at a hotel that was adjacent to Victoria Station, where the London underground and the trains to go outside of London can be boarded. When I left the hotel, I could go to my right and start walking through British history.
On my walk, I passed Buckingham Palace, the staging grounds for the Royal Guards, Westminster Abbey (where every King or Queen of England has been crowned since 1066), Parliament, Waterloo Station, and I ended up at the Imperial War Museum, one of the premier museums on war in the world.
I think back to that summer when I visited the Museum often, especially, during the summer months when I think about World War I. It has always been a poignant subject for me. I had a great uncle who fought in World War I and another one served in Siberia during the Russian Revolution, speaking of which, I corresponded once with a lady who played with the Czar's children before Nicholas the Second of Russia was disposed by revolutionaries in the midst of World War I.
I remember, too, waiting for a bus in Los Angeles and an elderly woman began to chat with me. This was some 30 years ago. She lived in Belgium during World War I and, after the war, the starving people of Europe were fed by the American people. The administrator of the program was Herbert Hoover who later became President of the United States. She had nothing but admiration for Mr. Hoover.
I certainly agree with the lady and, I have deep feelings for the men and women, too, who died in the war because of accidents, disease or combat, both civilian and military, estimated at 21 million with another 20 million wounded. If you add statistics for the Spanish Flu epidemic that occurred during that time and the Armenian Genocide, the words "blood bath" don't adequately describe the magnitude of death during that period.
Sir John Keegan is a noted British historian. He has written on warfare. His book on World War I describes the intense diplomatic activity, sadly to no avail, that occurred prior to the mobilization of men to fight. It resembled in absurdity with the activity that preceded our military engagement in Iraq. One thing you learn is this: Despite all the pretentious titles and, alleged intelligence on their part, then and now, those who are in charge are no smarter or wiser or different than you and I. They have to go to the bathroom like us. The major difference, however, is that they can send your kid to get killed. Don't forget this.
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