By Rep. Paul Evans, veteran and lawmaker
100 years ago today, the US emerged from the Great War as a major power.
At that moment, we could have perhaps, prevented the global economic depression that would come in the 1920s — and the global war (WWII) that followed — had we not allowed domestic partisan political squabbling to thwart our participation in the League of Nations (formed in the shadow of The Great War).
Though we often overlook the significance of WWI, it framed the entirety of the 20th Century: it taught young Americans lessons that forged the future. Too often we forget these lessons, but we are duty-bound to hold them close.
WWI was an industrialized war on a massive scale; it created a “war market” economy that perpetuated stalemated conflict that devastated Europe; it sent millions of US troops, of all races and creeds, to Europe to see a world beyond ours; it strengthened alliances, and reshaped the Middle East; it was the first time our country saw the impact of our economic, military, and political might — and it scared us.
We must not allow history to repeat, not this time. We must not allow the egos of a few to set us upon the wrong course. We must not allow our internal domestic politics to justify the unjustifiable, we must not retreat from our shared responsibilities in securing a global framework of international alliances, networks, and partnerships.
The price in blood and treasure is far to dear to allow ourselves to pull back from the ramparts — we built the interdependence between ourselves and European powers purposefully: to make peace economically, as well as morally, the rational choice. We must not allow historical revisionism (or willful ignorance) to win.
The world is struggling today: we shall either sustain a world built upon international democratic institutions, or the totalitarians shall return — there is no other alternative, and this Veterans Day it is incumbent upon us all to reflect, remember, and resolve.
Reflect upon the price of our freedoms, the promise of our ideals, as well as the value of our liberties;
Remember the loved, the lost, the wounded, the families and communities who love them still, and the necessity of keeping faith with the men and women we send into Harm’s Way on our behalf;
Resolve to fulfill our duty, to fight only when necessary — to fight for what is necessary to prevent the “...worser angels of our nature” from taking us into another global catastrophe.
Today I am grateful for all who served our nation, state, and communities. I am hopeful our nation may rediscover our footing. And I am open-eyed about our emergent circumstances.
We are still a nation at war, but we risk becoming far too comfortable with it — we risk all that we are, all that we should be — when we become numb to the awfulness of war.
Let us celebrate this 100th anniversary, this very special Veterans Day, appropriately: resolved to do what we must, to stand ready to fight when necessary, but to do so with an awakening to the sacrifices required of modern war, and shared awareness of its true price.