November 11th, 1918

A bit of family research by a cousin indicates my grandfather, George Childs Noonan, Sr, was being held as a POW by the Germans when World War One ended. He was involved in the Battle of the St Quentin Canal at the end of September, 1918, and he and his unit were captured after an epic stand against odds when they got cut off from their main body. My family was well represented in the War, with one grand uncle flying with the RAF and the rest in various American military units.

The War, when not simply forgotten, has a reputation of being nothing but a waste. But, it wasn’t. It was a war that had to be fought – the world couldn’t allow Imperial Germany to carry out its program of using unlimited military force to secure national ends. It is true enough that the Kaiser wasn’t nearly as evil as what came after him, but he was setting in train evil, and it had to be stopped.

And stopped it was. Though at a cost so high, as Churchill pointed out, that victory was indistinguishable from defeat. That is the real tragedy of the war – that the sides were so evenly balanced in power and military skill that no one could ever gain a decisive advantage until technological advances in 1918 made it possible for the superior mass of the Allies to just overwhelm the Germans with brute force.

No great Captains emerged from the war – no Rommel or Patton or MacArthur (though all three fought in the war). There was no spectacular victory on the field to fire the imagination. Just an intense, six weeks shock at the start of the war and then four very long years of grinding away at each other until one side quit.

It is worthwhile remembering them. They were very brave soldiers, on each side. They stuck it out in horrible conditions, year after year, and hardly a murmur of complaint arose. They were men, and they did their duty. And, now, 100 years later, that is all that really matters.

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7 thoughts on “November 11th, 1918

  1. jdge1 November 11, 2018 / 9:11 am

    Wars are a very ugly thing but are fought when they must be. One of the unfortunate things about war is collateral damage – the senseless death of innocent life, destruction of property, particularly homes & businesses and even the damage of priceless arts as is often done in major wars. This however is never a reason to avoid facing evil. We must never forget the brave men & women who made the ultimate sacrifice. God bless them all.

  2. Retired Spook November 11, 2018 / 11:27 am

    WWI appears to have bypassed my family. The generations just didn’t line up. My grandfathers were in their late 30’s and early 40’s at the time the U.S. entered the conflict, same for the brothers of both of my grandmothers. My maternal grandfather’s only adult sibling was a sister, and my fraternal grandfather was the only one of 9 children who lived to adulthood. If I had distant relatives who served, I’m not aware of them.

    Not a lot of recent movies have been made about WWI, at least not that I’ve seen, but one that was very vivid in its portrayal of the horrors of that conflict was War Horse.

    One of my favorite quotes about war is from John Stuart Mill:

    “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

    That said, there have been numerous wars that were neither noble nor necessary, and the loss of countless young men and women who were used as cannon fodder in such conflicts is even uglier than war itself.

    • jdge1 November 11, 2018 / 10:12 pm

      Great quote.

      That last sentence is one of the reasons I never voluntarily joined the military. Would you obey an order given by a higher ranking person that you totally disagreed with? We all know not everyone put in positions of authority are intelligent, brave or honorable individuals. How would you react if directed to engage in an act of idiocy? I’ve heard too many stories of people who returned from war, both Vietnam and the Gulf who have attested to such. The oath taken by those in the military is a very serious thing.

      That said, I would not hesitate to engage in war when it felt necessary, when remaining complacent is not an option. That may be very difficult to assess when dealing with events happening on the other side of the world where our knowledge of such events is tainted with bias. Stateside however is a different thing. The left keeps pushing to propel us into a socialistic global entity, devoid of morals and decency. How many elections will they attempt to steal? How many laws will they disobey with impunity? How many times will they circumvent the rule of the land? I read somewhere today that the UN wants us to be part of a one world government within the next 12 years and from what I see there are many politicians on the left who would love to see this happen. Incrementalism make it difficult to know when the line has been crossed where taking up arms is no longer an option. Until then it is certainly our responsibility to be involved, have our voice heard and push back against anything set out to destroy our freedoms, our values & great country.

  3. Cluster November 12, 2018 / 11:06 am

    I am reading Brian Kilmeade’s book on Andrew Jackson and his heroic efforts in New Orleans 100 years earlier in 1814. Fascinating story …..

  4. jdge1 November 12, 2018 / 10:28 pm

    For anyone who thinks that states like NY are a lost cause check out the map in this article.

    • M. Noonan November 13, 2018 / 10:58 am

      That is why New York should be North New York and South New York. It is two different States with divergent interests…but by keeping it together, NYC gets to rule over people who aren’t like them.

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