Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Centennial of the Great War, August 1914-2014

Today on 1 August 1914 the Great War started for Canada, we entered the war on the side of Britain and the Empire. Canada sent 10% of its population to war, some 620,000 men, poorly equipped and trained. At the end of the war some 61,000 Canadian soldier will be dead and another 18,000 will be missing never to be found buried in the mud of the Western Front.

Rightly so the Canadian people would ask ''For What ?'' a question the Conservative government of Sir Robert Borden had no answer.

Look at this map of Europe in August 1918 and note how the old Continent looked then. Four great Empires would collapse, Germany, the Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman Turk. Britain despite the armistice in November 1918 very nearly collapsed. This war would change the world and Canada.

In 1919 Europe would see new countries emerge which did not exist previously, created from nationalistic grievances. The Paris Conference would create many new problems and the final Treaty of Versailles will plant the seeds for a new war even more devastating some 20 years later.

Canada would emerge as a great power and would become an independent country, leading to renewed prosperity until the great economic depression of 1929.
Who knew that August one hundred years ago what was about to happen to the old order.

Europe today looks again very different since 1989 and the fall of the Iron Curtain and Communism.

The ceramic poppies planted around the Tower of London and on show now until November.
Some 888,000 poppies represent the sea of blood this war provoked, no one won, ending in an armistice, a war that cause much misery and no resolution.

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