There was an armistice of truce. Presumably a peace treaty would follow. The Great War was over.

World War I produced a body of poetry amd music. Perhaps the most famous i the following.


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.
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, 1918

World War I saw the mature development of weaponry that produced the greatest number of casualties in the shortest amount of time in the history of mankind. Tanks were deployed. There was the relatively new invention called the airplane. There were scout planes and fighters and bombers: death rained from the sky. There were submarines. Submarines were relatively small and very vulnerable to gunfire when they were on the surface. Therefore they attacked with torpedoes from below. There were no prisoners or survivors. Gas warfare was introduced. Death from mustard gas or chlorine gas could be long and horrible and this is not to mention scarring and blindness. All sides employed the largest numbers of cannon ever seen Whole forests were reduced to charred sticks. The machine gun had been perfected and mowed down soldiers by the hundred. Unfortunately the officers, as often is the case, employed tactics from the last wars. Groups of men left their positions and marched, shoulder to shoulder, into the machine guns and their deaths. Both sides believed for almost the entirety of the war that one more massive offensive would carry the day. They were wrong.

The casualty tolls for World War I are astounding. Germany lost 1.8 million men, Russia 1.7 million. France 1.4 million, Austria-Hungary 1.2 million, Great Britain and the Commonwealth 950,000 and the Americans 112,000.

World War I ended for two simple reasons. Both sides were running out of troops. Great Britain was drafting 50 year-old men and divisions were being formed where the minimum age was 40. By 1918 France could no longer replace battlefield losses and Britain abandoned the pledge not to send men under 18 to the front. The Germans had no one to fill the ranks except boys and old men. And then there were the Americans. The Germans and their allies were facing the arrival of 250,000 American troops per month. A blind British veteran penned a song that said it best, "The Americans Come." (1918) To fight on was simply to much to ask.

The Americans fought with courage, high morale and most importantly with the weight of numbers. The battles of Chateau-Thierry, Belleau Wood and the Argonne Forest have become legendary. American divisions were twice as large as those of their allies and their commander "Black Jack" Pershing quarreled with his colleagues that American troops would only be commanded by American officers. Unfortunately the Americans often used the Masses-man tactics that produced high casualty figures.

President Wilson declared the first Armistice Day for November of 1919. The practice of wearing the red poppy began in 1921. The holiday, called Remembrance Day in Great Britain morphed into Veterans Day in 1954. In 1918 Influenza Pandemic was the beginning and would kill for approximately two years vanishing as mysteriously as it had appeared, but not before anywhere from 50 to 100 million people perished world wide.

In arts and letters the Great War produced the "lost" generation: nihilistic, disillusioned, skeptical, self absorbed, and hedonistic. There are reminders of World War I around us still if you search just a little. Soldiers Field in Chicago opened in 1924 is really Soldiers Memorial Field. The student union at Iowa State University with its Gold Star Hall with the names of the dead inscribed on the walls is really Iowa State Memorial Union. So it goes.

More immediate results of the war included the dislocation of millions, widespread hunger, a War Guilt clause for Germany, crushing reparations designed to devastate the Germany economy for years. The creation of modern Poland, the creation of Czechoslovakia, the collapse of the Turkish Empire, the independence of Hungary, the splintering of the Balkans which would produce places like Bosnia and Croatia, the creation of the lands that would become Yugoslavia, undying bitterness and recrimination of the part of the German people leading to one Adolph Hitler and the appearance of a precursor to the United Nations, the League of Nations, the existence of which would prevent war.

The Great War was the War to End All Wars. Surely there would never be another.