Brothers In Arms

The Guns of August


So gorgeous was the spectacle of the May morning of 1910 when nine kings rode in the funeral of Edward VII of England that the crowd, waiting in hushed and black-clad awe, could not keep back gasps of admiration. In scarlet and blue and green and purple, three by three the sovereign rode through the palace gates, with plumed helmets, gold braid, crimson sashes, and jeweled orders flashing in the sun. After them came five heirs apparent, forty more imperial or royal highnesses, seven queens – four dowager and three regnant – and a scattering of special ambassadors from uncrowned countries. Together they represented seventy nations in the greatest assemblage of royalty and rank ever gathered in one place and, of its kind, the last. The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history’s clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.”

That is the opening paragraph of The Guns of August, the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic about the outbreak of WW1, by Barbara Tuchman.

Some consider this paragraph the greatest ever written in an historical war tome. It took her 8 hours to write.

WW1 lasted over 4 years, and killed almost 20 million soldiers and civilians. It is also blamed as the primary cause of the spread of the Spanish Influenza, the last catastrophic pandemic in our world, that claimed another 100 million lives.

And the treaty that ended WW1 led directly to the conditions and political decisions that caused World War 2.

Today is Armistice Day, originally designated to remember the cessation of hostilities in Europe and later to honor the dead of World War 1.

Now, we mark this day to honor all who have served and sacrificed.

Just as was the case 100 years ago on this very day, the world finds itself teetering, with uncertain leadership and alliances and a new emerging world power.

God help us find better answers than those that led to the two World Wars.

God protect and bless our armed forces, all who serve, including here at home in police cars and fire engines, and all those who have willingly served in the past.

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