Today (or thereabouts) marks the 100th year anniversary of the beginning of World War I. It was a bloody war. Twenty-seven-(ish) nations engaged. Old Civil War tactics were still being used by incompetent generals despite the invention of much more accurate weaponry. So soldier after soldier died in futile charges, raising the body count of World War I to historic levels. Poisonous gas tore through men’s lungs as they died drawn out, horrible deaths.
I never knew my maternal grandpa. But I know he and his brother fought in World War II. And I know his relatives a generation before, uncles, older cousins, maybe even his dad, all fought in World War I.
The generations were spaced such that the fathers who sacrificed to fight in World War I had to see their sons make the same sacrifice in World War II. Men fought and bled and died. Women raised kids alone, wrote long letters, and cried themselves to sleep. Children grew up not knowing “Daddy.”
Much has changed in a hundred years. Men flew to the moon and walked in Space. Computers were invented and shrunk to fit into one’s hand. The world got smaller as global communication increased. But we still have soldiers sacrificing years of their lives in foreign battlefields. We still have moms (and some dads) raising kids alone, writing long letters (and emails now too), and crying themselves to sleep at night. Military children beg for “Daddy” (or Mommy) when Daddy’s thousands of miles away.
But now there is no draft and our wars are fought by a much smaller force. So it’s a lot easier to forget the soldiers far from home, the spouses trying to keep it all together on the homefront, the children begging for “Daddy” or “Mommy”.
My husband got his deployment orders the week after our son was born. We were in the neo-natal intensive care unit. Our son had a brain infection and was fighting for his life. The doctors thought even if he survived, he might never walk or hear again. My husband received the orders that he’d have to leave for the Middle East for a year. And we were lucky. Back in the surge, soldiers left for two years at a time.
In 2013, my husband returned home safely and our son, praise God, is a perfectly healthy two-year-old. But I’ll never forget how war changed our family’s life.
War’s a terrible thing. It was a terrible thing one hundred years ago and it’s a terrible thing today. The least we can do is support our soldiers and their families who are bearing the brunt of it right now, today, in 2014.
Anne Garboczi Evans is an author with Hartline Literary Agency. She is currently working on a world religions book entitled, No Fear: My Tale of Hijabs, Witchcraft Circles, and the Cross.