It’s Veteran’s Day, a day to honor all the men and women who have served in the military throughout the years. Each year as this date rolls around, I think about all the men buried in a little cemetery in West Virginia, members of my father’s family who served in every war since the Spanish American War. What a legacy.
Today, I also want to make mention of my husband who served in the Air Force, my son who is a Marine, my brother who was in the Army and did a tour in Vietnam, and my daughter who was in the Army.
Thanks to all who have, or are, serving.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, November 11, 2018, Joby Warrick wrote a touching piece in the Washington Post about his Great Uncle Foster B. Stevens, 83 Co. U.S. Marines, who died in France mere days before the Armistice was signed.
In the version of American history familiar to most schoolchildren, the U.S. experience in World War I was a nearly unblemished triumph, a moment when an energetic and powerful young nation rescued Europe’s democracies and inspired the world with its ideas, optimism and military might.
That vision bears little resemblance to the reality encountered by U.S. soldiers and Marines who landed in France’s muddy killing fields in the spring and summer of 1918. By every measure, the arriving Americans were ill-prepared for the kind of grinding, heavily mechanized war of attrition that Europe’s great armies had fought over the previous three years.
Warrick went on to recount some of the history of the fighting between the Germans and French and American troops at a place called Belleau Wood, where the Germans had the high ground. His great uncle was one of the Marines who took part in the numerous attempts to gain control of the forested area, and after weeks of intense fighting and the loss of too many lives, the Marines prevailed.
The battle became an instant legend, and it remains today among the Marine Corps’ most celebrated victories of all time. Two Marine units, including Foster’s 6th Regiment, were awarded the French Croix de Guerre, and the French government officially renamed Belleau Wood in honor of the Americans, calling it “Bois de la Brigade de Marine.”
But the gains came at a horrific cost. During the first day’s charge into the woods, the two battalions suffered 1,087 killed and wounded, or about half the units’ strength, in what was then the largest single-day toll for the Marine Corps. The entire campaign, which included six major U.S. assaults and drew in units from two Army divisions, left nearly 10,000 Americans dead or wounded.
The scale of the losses would grow larger in the weeks that followed. On July 19, the 6th Marine Regiment, including Foster’s 3rd Battalion, was again sent across open fields to attack heavy German fortifications at the French city of Soissons. The battle ultimately succeeded in halting Germany’s last great offensive of the war, but it was a bloodbath. As an official regimental history later put it, “The 6th Marines had the bitter experience of trying to overcome the enemy with little more than their bodies.”
I encourage you to click over and read the entire story at the Post. It’s a well-written, and well-researched, article, detailing a war and its impact that is remembered by few, but should not be forgotten.
The horrific wildfires in California dominate current news, as death tolls from the Camp Fire continue to rise. This is the deadliest fire in state history, with 31 dead and over 200 people still unaccounted for.
The so-called Camp Fire in northern California burned down more than 6,700 homes and businesses in the town of Paradise – more structures than any other wildfire recorded in California.
With that, and another fire in southern California raging out of control, our erstwhile President had this to say on Twitter:
There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!
What he forgets is that most of the forested areas of California are Federal Lands, under the control and management of the Federal government, not State. Instead of laying blame and issuing threats to a besieged state, tRump should be looking at ways the Federal government can alleviate the risk of even more devastating fires in the future.
That’s all for me today, folks. I hope your week starts off well and continues on that path. If there is a Veteran in your life close enough to touch, give him or her a salute and a hug.
Please come back on Wednesday for a special surprise when Slim Randles will be my guest for an interview. You can find out more about the writer who often brings us fun stories about his friends down at the Mule Barn Truck Stop. Slim says they are all in his imagination, but…