Saturday, May 31, 2008

American Memory and World War I

University of Virginia historian Edward Lengel has an interesting column in the Wash. Post of May 25 about why Americans today are relatively uninterested in the experiences of U.S. soldiers in World War I, as opposed to say the Civil War, World War II or Vietnam. Comment on this column has appeared elsewhere in the blogosphere (notably by John Quiggin at Crooked Timber, see link at the sidebar). You can read the Lengel column by clicking here.


hank_F_M said...

A few years ago I did take the effort to learn something was the US participation in WWI

Part of the problem is there is stereotype of what WWI fighting was like and since every one knows that they lined up dressed and covered and charged in formationm what is there to learn? The truth is rather different. And there is probably more to learn in how an intractable situation was handled compared to later wars.

Despite the general lack of attention, the WWI experience had a major future repurcations. For example The Horror of the Trenchs and “never again” reaction was one step it process that led to dropping the Atomic Bombs.

LFC said...

yes, and in particular I'd emphasize Truman's WWI service, which you mention in your Hiroshima post.

Lengel writes that the Meuse-Argonne battlefield, where as you note a large number of U.S. soldiers died, is today visited almost exclusively by European tourists, not Americans.