A century ago on Sunday, November 11, the Great War came to an end. World War I (WWI) ended with the signing of the Armistice of Compiègne in a French forest 60 miles north of Paris on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 1918. Today, the event is commemorated in the United States as Veterans Day, which has become a national holiday to honor all those who have served in the U.S. military. While no veterans remain from the First World War, the stories of their time in the trenches continue to live on in the form of writings and recordings, which have documented the work of these brave men and women as they worked tirelessly to help carry the Allied Powers to victory.
Despite their tremendous effort and great sacrifice, many people see their sacrifice as having been done in vain as the world would descend once again into total war less than 30 years later. This belief that WWI was fought in vain fails to take into consideration the vast changes that were brought upon by the course of the war which helped to usher in the modern world. As a result of the violent, prolonged, and unrestrained nature of the war, the long standing alliance system between nations came to an end along with the glorification of war which had spurred on the troops of many nations when the conflict first started. Also seen as a result of the war's end was the restriction of chemical warfare and the first true efforts on the part of the international community to prevent the break out of future wars with the creation of mediating organizations such as the League of Nations.
These changes were truly revolutionary for the time, as no such restraints or prevention mechanisms for conflict existed prior to this devastating war. These ideas, which now champion and enshrine the peace makers as opposed to the war hawks, are now concepts which have become mainstream in today's society. While it may never be known how many lives could have been saved had the Great War never occurred, it is generally agreed upon by historians that the toll on human life would have been much greater in the long run had this final unrestrained war not break out when it did. Had military technology in the fields of chemistry, aviation, rocketry, or firearms been permitted to develop any longer than it already had, the war to end all wars would more than likely have become war to end all of mankind.
Be sure to take a moment sometime this week to thank all of those who have served in the armed forces for the brave and valiant effort to keep the peace that has long been fought for around the world. Also be sure to reflect upon the world we all live in now, and how it all could have been much more different. Things you see today would have likely had to change for the worst had it not been for the countless noble sacrifices made over a hundred years ago in those muddy trenches which scar the mainland of Europe to this very day.