Taking a break from regularly scheduled programming to recognize that it’s the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice that ended WWI.
In Europe, it’s a big deal. Millions died and parts of the French countryside is still scared and declared ‘red zones’ due to unexploded bombs from that time, and toxic soil from chemical weapons. In the US? Well, we barely learned anything about it in school. Mostly, we studied American history (aka the Revolutionary war and Civil War) and touched some on WWII. But I knew about it because I knew someone who fought in WWI.
My grandfather, Harry Field, was born in 1897 and fought in France in WWI. He was gassed with mustard gas by the Germans and it permanently bubbled and burned the skin on his face and damaged his lungs, so breathing was hard for him the rest of his life.
We don’t know how war effects people as individuals. I can’t comprehend what he saw and what he had to do to survive as a teenager on a battlefield of one of the bloodiest wars in history. My grandfather wasn’t known as a kind man, by many who knew him. And after being gassed, he was not handsome any longer. But I knew him until he passed at 80, when I was 10. I was his youngest grandchild, and while he wasn’t a fan of children, he would patiently play Old Maid or Go Fish for hours with me. I’m not sure why.
Grandpa was scary to look at as a young child. But I always imagine that he really looked like my brother, Todd, who is a handsome guy. Certainly my brother takes after him in build, and in other small ways.
Today, I just want to take a moment to remember the sacrifice of the men and women who served in WWI. Those who died in horrific battles, fought in the trenches and ‘went over the top’. And those who came home forever scared from the experience. It feels like a long time ago, in the beginning of a century our children hardly remember. But what they did changed the course of history. And I think they deserve a moment of our time.
So, Grandpa Field, this moment is for you.