A Soldier in France – circa 1916

A Postcard Photograph for Veterans Day

Taken at a studio in Nice, this photograph does not show any of the beguiling features of the French Riviera.

I think the soldier looks a bit lost and bewildered, which must have been a common feeling to the millions of young men, far from home and enduring the long, deadly, slog toward a peace during World War I.

“The Great War”, from which we take our date to commemorate veterans, was one of the costliest and tragic failures of people and governments.

The deadly and cruel “innovations” on the battlefield, the unprecedented destruction of civilian resources, the record number of deaths from arms and from disease, all set the stage for grim repercussions that lasted decades.

It is right to remember sacrifice, heroism, and devotion to duty.

I am sobered every Veteran’s Day, and can tear up, at the recitation of “On Flanders Fields” – remembering those who sacrificed their lives to defend their homes or to secure some good.

But, it is equally important, I think, to reflect on the reckless reaction, brinkmanship, ideological blinders, and refusal to pursue peace that has cost untold millions of young lives in thoughtless military missions that have embittered the world for generations.

One hopes that our young soldier returned home to live in peace.


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