Remembering World War I
“This is a war to end all wars.” Woodrow Wilson
This past Sunday was the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the Great War, the War to End all Wars. The war officially ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This Sunday at 11 in the morning, bells tolled in churches all over the world. Special programs about the war were held all over the world most notably in England and Paris, France where the world’s diplomats met to remember what had happened before them.
Both of my grandfathers served in the war and came home. I never heard one grandfather talk about his experience. The other, Grandfather Whaley, rarely talked about the war itself but did talk much about being in the army. He was born in what is now the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. Going into the service was his higher education.
When I was in college, my grandfather wrote to me every week on his old typewriter where several keys would often get stuck. The type was uneven. Every letter, however, was full of his army experiences and how he related it to my new life in college. He would remind me that the best lessons were in the people I would meet and the places where I would travel. Almost every sentence ended with etc, etc, etc. I kept every one of his letters. The girls on my floor in my dorm would gather each week to hear about his wisdom from his life experiences a half century earlier in the army in World War I and about his present life in small town Virginia.
Did I forget to tell you that my grandfather also always enclosed a dollar bill with each letter.