Friday, September 4, 2009

Over There

Today I finished listening to the audiobook of the 1962 classic, Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman, a fascinating narration of the events of the first month of World War I. This Monday September 7th, is the 95th anniversary of the horrific Battle of the Marne, in which over 2 million French, English and German soldiers fought and in four days over 500,000 were killed on the field or died later from wounds. Worse yet, since there was no decisive victory by either side, a stalemate ensued which prolonged the war for four more horrible years under unspeakable conditions. In memory of that tragic event, I decided to snap a photo of this plaque on Newport Ave. in Bend, Oregon. Even the peace in 1918 failed actually to resolve the issues between the combatants as the future demonstrated. Last Tuesday, September 1st, marked 70 years since the official beginning of World War II in 1939, when England declared war on Germany after the Third Reich's troops invaded Poland. Maybe I missed it, but I heard nothing from any government official noting this significant event. It is often said that there is much to be learned from remembering the past. The lessons are numerous and complex. In any case, thinking about, and feeling the highlights of history is similar to the way we try to understand ourselves. The impact of our parents' and grandparents' behavior, the events of the time and the choices we made, did much to determine our personality. Likewise, the world today can be better understood by cultivating a mild curiosity about the salient events of its past.

4 comments:

Raksha said...

Lee, I flashed on something as I was coming to the end of your post: the poem "September 1, 1939" by W.H. Auden. I hope everyone reading this googles that poem and reads it (I just did), because it's as relevant now as it was 70 years ago.

Small City Scenes said...

Obviously the past lessons are not learned well--we all are repeat offenders. Good post. MB

tapirgal said...

It's nice that someone remembered, and rather surprising that more didn't. If it's no longer surprising that the media is more into the important news such as what Jen and Brad are doing, at least it's a shame that really important events are forgotten.

Jacob said...

You are so right, Lee. We can't begin to understand who we are or how we got to where we are unless we know something of the events of the past...