One hundred years ago, the Great War ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The war resulted in the deaths of nearly 20 million people and set the stage for one of the deadliest pandemics in human history, 1918 Flu Pandemic.
Given the significance of this date, it is not surprising that there are so many articles popping up looking back on the events that took place when the war finally ended. I came across a couple of really interesting ones that told about the end of the war both on the battlefield as well as here in the States. The last piqued my interest because it involved my university alma mater and a beloved landmark on the campus.
This article from the Smithsonian Magazine was fascinating as it tells about how the bombs and shots fired up to the very last moment were “recorded”. Though no audio recordings as we know them were possible then, there were other means to record sound vibrations. A London museum commissioned help from a sound production company to recreate chilling audio from historical remnants for a new exhibit. Both the process for getting the original recording and what was done to bring it back to life were amazing. The article is very worth reading, but you can jump straight to the audio here, just be sure to listen to the very end.
The Corn Poppy became symbolic of WWI because its presence was noted near the mass graves of Flanders Field, inspiring the poem “In Flanders’ Field” by John McCrae. The seeds of these poppies only germinate when exposed to light, so disturbed soil is an ideal place for them to grow. The nature of the war allowed for a lot of soil disturbance, so the flowers proliferated.
I am not aware of any family members directly involved on the front, however my great-grandmother worked for the War Department in Washington, DC at the time. She never discussed this part of her life very much, to my knowledge. Being as young as I was when she was still alive, I don’t know that I would have paid attention if she had. Silly kid.
Nearly 20 million people died from this war alone, though the number could actually be higher. The flu epidemic may not have been as bad had the conditions created by the war not existed. That alone cost anywhere between 50 and 100 million lives. May the memories of those who served and perished not be forgotten. May the lessons of war always be remembered.