90 Years Ago April 6, 1917 US Entered WWI: And Then There Were Four

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Lest we forget...

And Then There Were Four

There were five. However, Charlotte Winters, 109, of Boonsboro, Md., the last female veteran of the war, died on Tuesday March 27, 2007. The four remaining are: Frank Buckles, 106, of Charles Town, W.Va.; Lloyd Brown, 105, of Charlotte Hall, Md.; Russell Coffey, 108, of North Baltimore, Ohio; and Harry Landis, 107, of Sun City Center, Fla.

About Those That Went Before Them

For us World War I was from April 6, 1917 until November 11, 1918. 36 Countries were involved in the fighting. 65 million Soldiers served. 4,734,991 of those were Americans (of which there are now four). 25,000 American Women served overseas. 53,402 Americans were killed in action. 63,114 Americans died of disease and other causes. 204,002 Americans suffered non-mortal wounds. One out of ever three French men aged 13-30 died. 3.5 million were Prisoners Of War by 1917.

About The War Itself

To quote a recent USA Today article, "The soldiers who went Over There thought they were fighting the 'war to end all wars.' It did not live up to its [billing]."

World War I actually lasted four years, from June 28, 1914 to November 11, 1918. It was also called the Great War. On one side were the "Allies" - France, Britain, Russia, and the U.S.; on the other were the "Central Powers" - Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey.

On June 28, 1914, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, were shot and killed by a Serbian nationalist. This event, which came to be known as the "Shot heard 'round the world," the death of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, propelled Europe and its allies into the war.

On November 11, 1918, an armistice with Germany was signed in a railroad carriage at Compigne in France. At 11:00am on November 11, 1918 -- the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month -- a ceasefire came into effect. Canadian George Lawrence Price is traditionally regarded as the last soldier killed: he was shot by a German sniper and died at 10:58.

A formal state of war between the two sides persisted until signing of the Treaty of Versailles with Germany on June 28, 1919. Later treaties with Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and The Ottoman Empire were signed. However, the latter treaty with the Ottoman Empire was followed by strife (the Turkish Independence War) and a final peace treaty was signed between the Allied Powers and the country that would shortly become the Republic of Turkey, at on July 24, 1923.

Some war memorials date the end of the war as being when the Versailles treaty was signed in 1919; most commemorations of the war's end concentrate on the armistice of November 11, 1918. Legally the last formal peace treaties were not signed until 1923. Some even treat the Versailles treaty as the prelude to World War II.

And A Few Facts About the Phrase "Shot Heard 'round the World"

"The shot heard 'round the world" is a well known phrase that has come to represent historical and popular incidents throughout world history.

In sports... in baseball, it is used for the Bobby Thomson's 1951 walk-off home run that clinched the National League pennant for the New York Giants. In golf, it was used most often to describe the 1935 par-5 double eagle 2 at the Masters Tournament by Gene Sarazen. In basketball it refers to Phoenix Suns player Garfield Heard's incredible shot before time ran out in Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics to send the game to a third overtime. In American soccer, it is used to describe the goal scored by Paul Caligiuri for the USA men's national team against Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain in 1989. The win propelled the team to the 1990 FIFA World Cup, helping to start a resurgence of American soccer on the international scene.

More recently, the phrase was used by MSNBC, Newsweek, and many web sites in describing Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of Harry Whittington while quail hunting in Texas.

The phrase appears to originate from the opening stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Concord Hymn (1837), and describes the impact of the battle at Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775. The entire stanza is:

-     By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
-     Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
-     Here once the embattled farmers stood;
-     And fired the shot heard 'round the world.

The Shot Heard 'Round the World is also an indie rock band from Brooklyn, NY, whose members include a descendant of Emerson.

Finally, in an article in Mad Magazine there once appeared a caption:

"The rocket in the upper right contains several cows. It is the first herd shot 'round the world!"

Of course - What, me worry?

--- Regards, Walt Schmidt