America’s forgotten memorial — the time to honor our WWI warriors has finally come
By Sandy Pershing
via The Hill web site
Historians and those who teach history have been engaged in a fierce but ultimately academic debate over the nation’s understanding of the root causes and lasting legacies of World War I. Unfortunately, few are listening.
Educators rhetorically ask whether we understand that many of our 21st century political borders and contemporary ethnic blood feuds were created by four years of carnage that scarred the world some 100 years ago. Its legacy also includes the birth of modern civil rights, women’s suffrage, contemporary military technology, and a dominant America that became the world’s feared and respected superpower. That long-ago war has lessons for today’s diplomats and generals as well as students in our classrooms, but our national character traditionally declines to be reflective.
Finding consensus on how to teach, much less what to teach, consumes us on topics far less complex than World War I. Common Core, for example, requires educators to teach to the test if they expect their own careers to advance. World War I is left to be taught with catchphrases, abbreviated narratives and summaries designed to “check the box.” What irony, then, when we consider that paying solemn tribute to those who have fallen in the defense of freedom is part of America’s proud legacy, even if it takes more than a generation to recognize that sacrifice.
Since World War I, the conclusion of each conflict that sent our young people off to war has generated a prolonged and inexplicable national debate on where and how and when to honor those who have died in the line of duty. It would take until 1982 for the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., to be dedicated. The Korean War Memorial in the nation’s capital was finally completed in 1995. And it wasn’t until 2004 that the World War II Memorial was opened to the public on the National Mall.
The World War I Memorial to the millions of Americans who served? One hundred years later, it hasn’t been started.
It would be inconceivable to Gen. Jack Pershing that a century ago he would be told the men under his command would not have a memorial to their sacrifice in the nation's capital when the centennial of that conflict would finally arrive. Yet that reality overshadows the programs and retrospectives now underway as we study the cause and effect of America’s entry into “The Great War.”
Read the whole article on the The Hill web site:
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