Today marks the 90th anniversary of the Armistice which ended World War I, a cataclysm which, among other outcomes, destroyed many of Europe’s monarchies and two of the world’s largest empires (the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman), bankrupted Britain, allowed the emergence of international communism as a powerful social movement, created a model for technologically-driven total warfare, and made the U.S. into the world’s leading industrial power. The Great War also killed about 20 million people, created several states which still trouble the world today (Yugoslavia, Iraq), and of course led to a flawed “peace” which only led to an even greater war 21 years later.
Amazingly, there are still a few veterans of World War I among us. At least ten men who served in the war are still alive, including the American doughboy Frank Buckles. Several of these servicemen are also their country’s oldest known citizens, and several – including Buckles – also witnessed the violence of World War II. It’s not suprising, given the way the histories of wars are written, that there’s is no parallel list of the women who witnessed the war.