In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead; short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe!
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
The first act of the twentieth century, the act that created the modern world, ended one hundred years ago today. It was an act unprecedented in the history of the west. It was an act of destruction and horror which, though none now live who remember it, still haunts the west. Though it is fading into our past, as events do, the tendrils of its aftermath still wrap around us, squeezing us in ways we can barely see.
The war directly ended the existence of four of the world’s six great empires. It forced changes in one of the others, giving birth to Australia and New Zealand. The anticolonial revolutionaries of a generation later gave credit to it as the first time they believed European armies could be beaten, inspiring them to change their worlds. It gave birth to the fissure in the west that became the cold war; it lay the seeds for the most terrible European regime of the twentieth century. And it killed an incredible number of people in the most ghastly of ways.
Twenty million people died in the war. Phrased another way: some days saw more deaths, some days saw fewer, but averaged out across the length of the war, more than thirteen thousand people died each day. Each day for more than four years.
In modern times, Americans consider it a tragedy to have had three thousand people die in a single attack, and we considered the approximately four thousand Americans who died in the Iraq war to be intolerable (while not really noticing the approximately one hundred fifty thousand Iraqis who died in the same time).
Can you imagine thirteen thousand people a day, every day, for four years? In a world whose population was a quarter of today’s population?
Today is the day our forefathers set aside so that they could remember. They are gone, but today is the day for us to remember in their stead.
Back in the 90's I had a website that briefly made me internet famous - which, at the time, meant brief mentions in magazines, a book, and other websites.
By around 2000 or so, it had a quarter million hits and was just too much damned work, and the Palm Pilot was dead, so I gave my content to another site and shut it down. Later, some domain squatter bought the domain and told the wayback machine they weren't allowed to archive my old content. (How does that work?!?)
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