Issues in the news and their impact here at home
This last week Americans recognized the end of World War I, Nov. 11, 1918, commonly referenced in history books as “The Great War.”
Millions of Europeans died in this conflict, along with large numbers of Americans who sailed across the Atlantic to join in. Others sustained wounds physical and mental with which they lived the rest of their lives. Maps in Europe were redrawn and large parts of industry and millions of homes were destroyed.
While it is right to recognize the significant sacrifices made by those who wore our uniform, as one who spent 34 years in the U.S. Army in peace and war, I am hesitant to call any war “great.”
War is in virtually every case a failure of man and politics to resolve problems without killing. While I can honor those who chose to put on uniforms to protect their families and homeland, after centuries of brutal warfare I have to believe we can do better.
Men and now women who take up arms to defend their country carry on a tradition that has gone on for centuries. However, in a time of superior access to information and communication, we must do better.
As a soldier I attended schools on how to assure victory over potential opponents, but was far less exposed to the lessons of history where war was avoided.
I hope this is the challenge of the rising generation and that their success in this effort will lead to future celebrations of wars which were never fought.
This past week, as a retired soldier, I have frequently heard the kind greeting: “Thank you for your service to our nation.” I hope in the future that greeting is equally shared with those who have prevented nations from going to war.
(John Reppert is an Anna native and former editor of The Gazette-Democrat. He served in the U.S. Army, rising from the rank of private to brigadier general. He earned a PhD in international relations and taught at the University of Maryland. He also served as the executive director of research at Harvard University’s Belfer Center. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)