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The Unknowns

A special WWI Centennial post. Honoring that fact that this year (well, today, precisely) is the year of anniversary (50 years, 55 years, & 100 years, just to name a few). This book looks at the heroes of WWI – the very heroes that would carry the Unknown hero to his burial in Arlington Cemetery.

 

Summary (Official):

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is sacred ground at Arlington National Cemetery. Originally constructed in 1921 to hold one of the thousands of unidentified American soldiers lost in World War I, it now also contains unknowns from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and receives millions of visitors each year who pay silent tribute.

When the first Unknown Soldier was laid to rest in Arlington, General John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force in WWI, seleted eight of America’s most decorated, battle-hardened veterans to serve as Body Bearers. For the first time O’Donnell portrays their heroics on the battlefield one hundred years ago, thereby animating the Tomb by giving voice to all who have served. The Body Bearers appropriately spanned America’s service branches and specialties. Their ranks include a cowboy who relived the charge of the light brigade, an American Indian who heroically breached mountains of German barbed wire, a salty New Englander who dueled a U-boat for hours in a fierce gunfight, a tough New Yorker who sacrificed his body to save his ship, and an indomitable gunner who, though blinded by gas, nonetheless overcame five machine-gun nests. Their stories slip easily into the larger narrative of America’s involvement in the conflict, transporting readers into the midst of dramatic battles during 1917-1918 that ultimately decided the Great War.

Celebrated military historian and bestselling author Patrick O’Donnell illuminates the saga behind the creation of the Tomb itself and recreates the moving ceremony during which it was consecrated and the eight Body Bearers, and the sergeant who had chosen the one body to be interred, solemnly united. Brilliantly researched, vividly told, The Unknowns is a timeless tale of heeding the calls of duty and brotherhood, and humanizes the most consequential event of the twentieth century, which still casts a shadow a century later.

 

The Unknowns is the incredible story of the eight body bearers of the unknown soldier:

  • Chief Gunners mate James Delaney; member of SS 
  • Gunnery Sergeant Ernest A. Janson; 1stBattalion 5thRegiment Marines,
  • Color Sergeant James W. Dell; U.S. Army Field Artillery
  • Corporal Thomas D. Saunders; 2ndRegiment engineer
  • Chief Water Tender Charles Leo O’Connor; member of USS Mount Vernon,
  • First Sergeant Harry Taylor; master sergeant with U.S. Army headquarters
  • Sergeant Samuel Woodfill; a U.S. Army
  • First Sergeant Louis Razga; Coast Artillery Corps

So, this is eight separate stories about real heroes. Men who were willing to sacrifice everything; men who were willing to put their lives on the line for those they fought with. And not just once, but time and again.

These men went above and beyond the call of duty.

That’s why they were chosen to be the body bearers.

Because after eight incredible stories, there’s one more tale to tell.

See, after the war, the government decided that it wanted to honor the brave men who fought in the War to End All Wars. More precisely, they wanted to honor all of those unknown soldiers.

So, a huge celebration was planned, and during this celebration, they were going to bury, with honor one unknown solider, who would represent all of the unknown soldiers who had died in the war. Then, the eight body bearers would partake in the ceremony, honoring all the men who had died, especially those who would forever go unknown.

So, if you want a story about real, true heroes. Men who were willing to sacrifice everything, this is the book for you. Eight body bearers and an unknown solider.

Better yet, even though today is the 100th anniversary, we still have another seven weeks left of the year. Perfect timing to read up on WWI!

Genre: History

Era: WWI

Goodreads: The Unknowns

 

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Armistice Day

 

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Armistice Day. Remembrance Day. Veterans Day.

So many different names. So many different things to honor and remember. All the same day. 

It started after the end of WWI – 100 years ago today. “On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” A day to remember those who died in the line of duty. Today, we honor everyone who ever served with the U.S. military. (Not to be confused with Memorial Day, in which we actually do remember those who fell).

On November 11, 1918, at 11:00 AM an armistice was signed. It marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not formally a surrender. In it, both sides agreed to end the fighting while terms of peace were negotiated. But that’s just it. It was not an actual end to the war. It was an agreement to put a pause on the fighting, until further notice. This further notice just happened to last 21 years. The time it would take to raise an entire generation of young men (and women) who would face battle. Or, the continuation of a great war.

“An armistice is a formal agreement of warring parties to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, since it may constitute only a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace. It is derived from the Latin arma, meaning “arms” (as in weapons) and -stitium, meaning “a stopping”.[1]

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“The Armistice was designed to end the fighting of WWI, and the terms of it would make it impossible for Germany to restart the war, at least in the short term… . If Germany broke any of the terms of the Armistice … fighting would begin again with 48 hours notice” (tenfactsabout.co.uk). “The armistice initially ran for 30 days but was regularly renewed until the formal peace treaty was signed at Versailles the following year. Before the Treaty of Versailles, the Allies kept their armies ready to begin hostilities back again within 48 hours” (Source). Apparently by Nov 5th, after a month-long attempt at peace negotiations, during which time Germany agreed to negotiate Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points only to then threaten resuming war when they found the Allies’ negotiations unacceptable, the Allies agreed to take up negotiations for a truce, now also demanding reparation payments from Germany. [Above is the only picture of the signing ceremony] 

Some scholars argue that WWI and WWII are, essentially, the same war. On the same note, some also believe (a historian friend of mine included) that The Treaty of Versailles lead to WWII. The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to accept full responsibility for the damages of the war and forced them to pay reparations to the tune of 132 billion gold marks (US 33 billion dollars). This led to wide-spread poverty and unemployment (as noted in an earlier post) and made it easier for Hitler to claim power (also noted earlier). Actually, Germany did not completely pay off their debt until 2010! (source same as above). So the Allies claim victory because Germany was forced into negotiations or else lose the war. We had temporary peace on the Western front. But left Germany in such tight straights that, really, another war was almost inevitable. So much for a victory, huh?

In another note: WWI left nine million soldiers dead, 21 million wounded, and another five million civilians dead from “disease, starvation, or exposure” (Source).

If anyone is interested in WWI historical fiction, let me first recommend All Quiet on the Western Front (coincidentally given to me by Michael (yeah, I got sick of mentioning him by his major!)) by Erich Maria Remarque. It tells the story from the German perspective and was, interestingly enough, on Hitler’s banned books list.

I also recommend:

  1. The Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd – a British WWI mystery series about an army nurse
  2. When Christmas Comes Again: The World War I Diary of Simone Spencer (A Dear America book published by Scholastic) – Simone Spencer goes off to war as a switchboard operator. It’s YA (or rather children’s, maybe) but I still highly recommend it.
  3. Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1)by Jacqueline Winspear – Another WW1 mystery series about an army nurse. This is another series, though only book #1 takes place during the war. It follows through the 20′s & 30′s and currently, I believe, is starting on WWII.

And well! Remember our vets today – both fallen or still with us. Wear your poppy with pride and, if possible, thank a veteran for the freedom you have today. Lest We Forget.

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WWI Centennial 

Folks, the 100th Anniversary of the end of WWI is a mere two months away now. And here at USA-eVote, we’d like to mark the occasion in a big way. But it will take more than just us here at USA-eVote. We, not just as citizens of America, but as citizens of the world, owe these brave men and women.

So, we’re asking your help. Have an idea of how we can honor the men and women who fought in world war one? Have an idea of somewhere we (as in all of us) could donate? Let us know!

We would like to make a difference and show Americans how grateful we are to those who fought in the Great War. 

We CANNOT let this anniversary pass us by without marking it.

It is our obligation to those who served, and most definitely, to those who died, to remember it.

Help us do something.

We beg of you.

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