No American soldiers offered greater courage or suffered worse conditions than those who fought in World War I. Our country suffered 320,000 casualties (116,500 killed) in little more than a year of combat. Those sacrifices are mostly unremembered now, tragically so. Stern lessons, dearly purchased, were learned in the trenches and recorded by great writers: Rupert Brooke’s poems, “Good-bye to All That by Robert Graves, Remarque’s “All’s Quiet on the Western Front”, Vera Brittain’s “A Testament of Youth” and Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”. More recent writers have also shone light on the conflict’s darkest ditches: Mark Helprin’s “A Soldier of the Great War” and – especially for me – Paul Fussell’s “The Great War and Modern Memory”. I wish Americans would read these books. I wish Americans would learn from what others have sacrificed to teach. I wish Americans would learn to remember.
The United Kingdom lost a generation of young men to The Great War. That loss is suffered still and several years ago many ceremonies and activities commemorated the hundredth anniversary of its beginning. Among them was a writing competition conducted by the Saveas Writers’ Group. A story of mine about World War I was awarded a prize and has at last been published in the competition anthology. The Bigger Picture: Reflections on the Great War is now available on Amazon. It’s worth your time.
Election Day is just prior to Veterans Day. I’d like everyone to think of the latter as they participate in the former. I’d like to remind folks that the wars of the past sixty-six years – aside from the tens of thousands of dead and hundreds of thousands of wounded, if anything can be aside from them – have sorely wounded our Constitution. Our founders well knew that war can be used to manipulate ordinary citizens. That’s why they vested the power to declare war in ordinary citizens – through our elected representatives. Our representatives have run from their responsibilities for many decades to the harm of us all. My poem recalls the price we’ve paid. Responsibility for changing our course lies with us all. Here’s the link:
My story “A Letter from Kriemhilde Stellung” was awarded 3rd place in Canterbury’s Save As Writers’ Group’s competition in remembrance of World War I. It might be included in a British anthology late in 2015. Here’s what the judges had to say about it:
The Bigger Picture – Reflections on the Great War
3rd Prize: A Letter from Kriemhilde Stellung
“An engaging short story that grips the reader’s attention right up to the last minute. It begins with an old man in a nursing home asking for paper and pencil. We are then taken back to the cause of his request. Unlike any of the other stories, this actually describes a combat scene. The style is lean, mean and pacey with sparing use of adjectives. Arranged along a double timeline with good use of scenes, crisp characterisation, realistic dialogue and a good plot with a twist in the tail.”
The effects of World War I loom large in daily events and cost American lives even now. Our public ignorance of this catastrophic war and how it acts upon our lives a hundred years after its end dismays and embarrasses me. I wrote this story in hopes of adding to general awareness of the War. I’ll post information here if and when my story is published.