Monday, June 8, 2015

Great War

Company 'I', 1919
The Boys Went Marching...
The last time Hannah saw Gerald was the day he rode the train out with hundreds, maybe thousands, of boys in uniform.  Fight the Great War…Be home by Christmas! Hannah blew kisses and waved as if her arm needed to go with him.

All the other new brides gathered at the church hall to roll bandages and pack toiletries.  Murmurs echoed across, up, and down from the vaulted ceiling.

“Why, my Joe said that Paris is grand, and some day he will take me there!  He writes to me every day, you know.”  Melissa wrapped bandages, her eyes lost in dreams.  Long white strips draped over her rounded belly.

Airplane, possibly World War I fighter plane, 1916
Beginning of War from Above
In the circle of young brides. Hannah was alone with a flat belly. Letters from Gerald came every day, but were grim and spotted with mud.  His words she would not share with the round-belly brides.  They needed their dreams, while Hannah needed truth.

Christmas came and left, church bells rung and carols sung. Then another Christmas slipped by unnoticed.

Brides, now weathered lonely wives, still met at the hall.  While toddlers chased around, mothers wrapped and wrapped rolls of white cotton.  The young faces once wreathed with smiles now reflected strain of another year gone by.  Letters grew fewer and all waited for the one letter they did not want to receive.

Then.  It ended.

coming home crowd
(AWM H11576)
Australia; women watching for their boys to come down the gangplank

The “boys” came home; some had left legs and arms behind; some remained, buried in graves in France, near the ocean.  Boys now men-- some shivered at every loud sound, while others were stoic, with distant haunted eyes.

Gerald held Hannah gently.  “It was awful, never seen anything like it.”  Hannah settled her face into the fragrance of Gerald’s wool uniform.

She whispered into the wool.  “I knew you would come home, just knew it.  And, I will never let go of you.”

Ever.


World War 1 is the often-forgotten war.  Its veterans are now gone.  Honor them. 

20 comments:

  1. And those of us who don't know the horrors of war should be grateful.

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  2. Horror like that will hopefully never be seen again

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    1. After watching some documentaries about the weapon development at that time, I wonder...

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  3. Unfortunately, man being man, it may well happen again. Most of the WWI men didn't talk about their time at the front, it certainly changed them. I lived through WWII and was lucky to live away from the worst bombing. My father was a pilot and trained other pilots at the beginning of the war, then flew transport commend importing needed supplies. So he too was not at the front.

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    1. Thankfully he trained other pilots, and trained them well.

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    2. Wait...were you in London at that time? Or Europe? That is a story to tell in itself.

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    3. Not London but I lived in the north of England. Hubby lived in the south and remembers dogfights in the skies and bombs dropping.

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  4. Heart-breaking truths. That we seem to need to learn. And relearn. And relearn.

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    Replies
    1. History seems to repeat itself, doesn't it.

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  5. Too bad it didn't end all wars...

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    1. ...as it was supposed to do. My mom's dad was at the front, in the trenches, behind enemy lines--all of it. He was gassed, resulting in lung damage. The VA sent him a $25 check every month for the rest of his life.

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  6. a very moving story Susan. and we never learn do we? Wars keep going on, smaller than World Wars, but the tragedies are the same :(

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    1. "When will we ever learn?" is that a Joan Baez song?

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  7. Enjoyed your story, yet it feels so sad to think of our young people going off to war. I have a son in the Marines and another in the Air Force, and I hope they never get deployed for battle. "the war to end all wars" Famous last words, eh?

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    1. Indeed...maybe a hopeful statement, rather than an outright lie?

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  8. So much emotion in this story and so much truth in it too. So true too that veterans of that war are all gone and soon I would imagine veterans of WW2 gone as well. I am glad that Gerald did return in the story; sadly so many others didn't.

    (in answer to your question on my blog, yep, the San Diego Fair, used to live in Chula Vista area but moved to Arizona this past January, and no I didn't try the deep fried butter. Saw there was deep fried Starbucks there too :)

    betty

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! Every year there is almost a contest to make the most disgusting deep fried sweet something.

      Every day it is estimated that about 1,000 more WW2 veterans pass. My father was one of them a few years ago.

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  9. What a beautiful yet extremely sad story. So many did not come home...

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    1. The "face" of War changed in WW1, when weaponry became more sophisticated.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!