July 28, 2014
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.If you recall, it was the war to end all wars. Well, that certainly did not work out, did it? One month prior to this day a group of anarchists decided to shoot the Archduke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand. As the open car travelled the streets, each assassination attempt was foiled. The assassination attempt was so botched that Gavrilo Princip decided to blow off the whole thing and go home. As he began his walk home, the open car with the Archduke drove right past him. He opened fire and killed the Archduke and his wife Sophia. That assassination plunged the world into a time that many historians now are calling the Dark Ages of recent time. Because of all of the alliances that were made between and among countries in Europe, once one country declared war, other countries joined in the fracas. Even though the shooting began in Austria-Hungary, Germany invaded France.The invasion of the wrong country would be repeated under the W Bush administration. But back to the story, the Germans implemented the Schlieffen Plan, so named after the General of the same name. This plan meant the German army would march through Belgium into France. This was not the first time the Germans used this plan. The Germans first went through Belgium on the way to France during the Franco-Prussian War in 1878. They did again in 1914 and they did it again in 1940. The last time they actually made it to Paris. One would think the French would have learned after three times. By September of 1914, both the Allies (England, France and Russia) and the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary and Germany), were at a standstill and had dug up most of France with miles of trenches. This gave the world terms such as “no man’s land,” “trench warfare,” and the phrase “All quiet on the Western Front.” It also gave the world a new weapon called the machine gun. Even when a “neutral” British ocean liner called the Lusitania carrying American passengers was sunk by a German submarine, the United States refused to enter the war. History has since shown that the Lusitania was carrying bombs. But then came the Zimmermann Telegram. Germany sent Mexico a coded message saying if you join us, we will return all the land you lost. This really pissed the United States off because what would it do without Texas? So On April 6, 1917, the United States officially declared war on Germany. By 1917 both sides were running low on soldiers. Russia decided to pull out and start its own revolution bringing the world an economic system called Communism. So with Black Jack Pershing leading the way, the U.S. sailed over and whipped Germany and Austria-Hungary’s butts. However, the winners screwed up the peace agreements and after a tentative peace, twenty-one years later on September 1, 1939, the whole thing started all over again. But this time it was called World War II. The carnage left behind by the end of World War I was staggering. By the end of the war, an estimated 10 million soldiers were killed. That averages to about 6,500 deaths a day, every day. That number does not count civilian casualties. So as you watch the news this evening and see all of the conflicts still ranging throughout the world, remember today was the day it all began in World War I.