The World War I veterans are gone now, but the lingering effects and presence of that war are still remembered and felt today. The observance of the hundredth anniversary of the event that sparked the war—the assassination of the Austrian heir to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, on June 28th—took place this summer. As much as that older war is imbued in our history and culture, World War II looms larger not just because it was larger, but because it is still recent enough to be felt by the families of men who fought in it. As enormous as the monetary cost of both wars was, the cost in lives—up to 16 million for WW I, and up to 80 million for WW II—was even more staggering.
World War Reminders
Hardly a day goes by when a book, movie, or news story doesn’t remind us of those wars. Hundreds of soldiers’ remains are still found every year. Bombs and munitions are still uncovered in Germany, England, and throughout the fronts of the wars. Looted art and treasure is still retrieved. New stories of the victims still appear. War criminals are still hunted down and charged. As I wrote this, an Internet news search for World War II turned up stories about rationing, airmen flying their old planes again, the upcoming release of three major World War II-themed movies, and the discovery of a sunken U Boat off Cape Hatteras. The submarine was sunk in 1942 when warfare between convoys and U-boats was intense.
And incredibly enough, war debts incurred in World War I are still being paid off. The cited story states Britain is retiring bonds that have been refinanced since World War I. Some debt can even be traced back to the 18th century. I’ll be writing more about some of these things and this topic in the weeks and months to come.