Alli Snow (allisnow) wrote,
Alli Snow
allisnow

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History lessons

So here's something interesting. I'm reading Rilla of Ingleside, which is one of the Anne books by LM Montgomery; Rilla is Anne and Gilbert's youngest child. The book is set during WWI, and there are a lot of allusions to people and different places and battles. Well, I haven't studied WWI in the least since my 10th grade world history class... which was, I guess, six years ago. So I went and Googled and found the very helpful FirstWorldWar.com and every time I see the name of a battle or a politican or general I'm able to follow along with the history. Usually I don't like doing that -- it's like reading a poem with a million footnotes; you have to read and understand the footnotes first otherwise it takes you out of the flow of the poem. But in this case my reading of the story and the history at the same time seems to be going rather well. Of course I have to remind myself that we probably know things about these battles that they didn't know right away back then.

It feels very appropriate to be reading on this subject during Memorial Day weekend, even though the special event this year is the dedication of the WWII memorial. And reading the details of these different battles really makes you think. It's been almost 100 years since WWI -- a war of land-grabbing and treaties gone awry, howitzers and trench warfare. Thousands lost at Yser, hundreds of thousands at Champagne... nearly 1,000,000 casualties at Verdun on both sides. I guess it puts things in perspective. It breaks my heart to think of the men and women lost in Iraq and Afghanistan... and in the years leading up to 9/11 with the first WTC bombing and the attack on the USS Cole (when we'd had war declared on us but certainly weren't acting like it). But then you compare those numbers to the numbers in WWI... and for what?

Anne and Gil's first born son, Jem, and his friend Jerry (daughter Nan's beau) are crossing the Atlantis right now, while the next oldest, Walter, is afraid of war and hasn't enlisted, much to Rilla and Anne's relief. I love how LM has shown so many of the complexities of emotion and reaction that way.
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