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May 28, 2007

The Guns Of March

Memorial Day began as a day to commemorate soldiers killed on both sides in the Civil War. After World War I, it was expanded to honor soldiers killed in all U.S. wars.

Speaking of World War I, this is from The Guns of August:

In August [1914], sitting at a cafe in Aachen, a German scientist said to the American journalist Irwin Cobb: "We Germans are the most industrious, the most earnest, the best educated race in Europe. Russia stands for reaction, England for selfishness and perfidy, France for decadence, Germany for progress. German Kultur will enlighten the world and after this war there will never be another..."

Talk of this kind for years before the war had not increased friendliness for Germany. "We often got on the world's nerves," admitted Bethmann-Hollweg, by frequently proclaiming Germany's right to lead the world. This, he explained, was interpreted as lust for world domination but was really a "boyish and unbalanced ebullience."

The world somehow failed to see it that way. There was a stridency in the German tone that conveyed more menace than ebullience.

Happy Memorial Day!

Posted at May 28, 2007 07:24 PM | TrackBack

thankfully, no one believes that sort of hollow, patriotic, bombast anymore, so you hardly see it used. ;)

Posted by: stupidBaby at May 28, 2007 07:39 PM

"Am deutschen Wesen soll die Welt genesen."

Close call.

Posted by: donescobar at May 28, 2007 07:48 PM


Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 28, 2007 10:28 PM

Cindy Sheehan is calling it quits.

Too much for one person to fight two parties whose only difference is how they spell their names.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at May 28, 2007 10:37 PM

Unlike the Germans in 1914, however, we have the capacity to wreck human civilization rather than merely screw up the 20th century almost beyond redemption. So let us hope for future Memorial days when stupidBaby's comment does not require a ;).

Posted by: Bruce at May 28, 2007 10:37 PM

Gosh, it sure is good to know that that we are better than that.

Posted by: rob payne at May 28, 2007 11:52 PM

Technology and social standards evolve, but fundamental human nature never changes...

Posted by: anon at May 29, 2007 03:05 AM

Russia stands for reaction, England for selfishness and perfidy, France for decadence, Germany for progress.

Shove your Kultur, Boche - America stands for all the above!

Posted by: abb1 at May 29, 2007 08:51 AM

At least that German scientist was naive enough to believe that The Great War would be the LAST one. An American in his position might however wish that wars go on forever because "evil is always afoot...and I wanna go kick some ass"

Posted by: En Ming Hee at May 29, 2007 11:07 AM