One hundred years ago today, the United States entered The First World War. It was exactly one month before my father was born.
On a personal level, I remember fondly two young men who served in "The Great War" - our neighbor, Albert Reichardt (I wrote about him in my blog post of July 17, 2011) and my great uncle, Leslie Duncan. These two, along with seventeen others, left Corning by train in February, 1918 for training at Camp Dodge near Johnston, Iowa. I know Albert served overseas, but I don't think my great uncle did. I think the war ended (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, 1918) before Leslie was shipped overseas.
(Addendum: My great-uncle Guy Inman also served, though I don't know any details. On his grave stone is this: "Pvt. Repl. Tng Center WWI")
One online site reports more than 4.7 million Americans served in the war and 53,402 died in combat. But I have also read that more died from diseases than the ones killed in combat. The 'Spanish Flu' pandemic spread quickly through the close quarters of army camps.
Next year's centennial of the end of WWI will garner much more attention, I'm sure, than this one of our country's entrance into the war which had already been going on for more than three years, and the flower which came to symbolize the War will also receive more attention. For me, those first lines will always remind me of that long ago time.
.....In Flanders fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row.....