Thursday, October 1, 2009

Unknown Soldier

Through his writing titled The Body of an American, John Dos Passos attempts to give an identity to the American unknown soldier, known as “John Doe” and restore his lost humanity. Dos Passos used descriptive and insightful language to establish the fact that John Doe is every American, no matter the social class, region of origin, or ethnic background. He depicts the life of John Doe as the life of every possible man in America; from birth, through childhood and into adulthood as he becomes a soldier who gives his life for his country.
In addition to pointing out the humanity of these men, Dos Passos depicts the horror and fear of death which the soldiers at war experience; and in a very detailed way he shows us the painful process of recovery and returning of the bodies of these unknown soldiers to their home land.
Although he shows us a very crude and sad reality, Dos Passos’ main goal is to make an effort to honor and give tribute to the lives of those men who died, unrecognized and forgotten; and to make a point to indicate that every John Doe must be honored even by the highest regarded citizens, including the president.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points"

President Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points" (January 8, 1918.)

"It will be our wish and purpose that the processes of peace, when they are begun, shall be absolutely open and that they shall involve and permit henceforth no secret understandings of any kind. The day of conquest and aggrandizement is gone by; so is also the day of secret covenants entered into in the interest of particular governments and likely at some unlooked-for moment to upset the peace of the world. It is this happy fact, now clear to the view of every public man whose thoughts do not still linger in an age that is dead and gone, which makes it possible for every nation whose purposes are consistent with justice and the peace of the world to avow nor or at any other time the objects it has in view.

We entered this war because violations of right had occurred which touched us to the quick and made the life of our own people impossible unless they were corrected and the world secure once for all against their recurrence. What we demand in this war, therefore, is nothing peculiar to ourselves. It is that the world be made fit and safe to live in; and particularly that it be made safe for every peace-loving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own institutions, be assured of justice and fair dealing by the other peoples of the world as against force and selfish aggression. All the peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest, and for our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us. The programme of the world's peace, therefore, is our programme; and that programme, the only possible programme, as we see it, is this:

I.  Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.

II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.

III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.

IV.  Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.

V.  A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.

VI.  The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.

VII.  Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.

VIII.  All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.

IX.   A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.

X.  The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development.

XI.  Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.

XII.  The turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.

XIII.  An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.

XIV.  A  general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.
In regard to these essential rectifications of wrong and assertions of right we feel ourselves to be intimate partners of all the governments and peoples associated together against the Imperialists. We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end.

For such arrangements and covenants we are willing to fight and to continue to fight until they are achieved; but only because we wish the right to prevail and desire a just and stable peace such as can be secured only by removing the chief provocations to war, which this programme does remove. We have no jealousy of German greatness, and there is nothing in this programme that impairs it. We grudge her no achievement or distinction of learning or of pacific enterprise such as have made her record very bright and very enviable. We do not wish to injure her or to block in any way her legitimate influence or power. We do not wish to fight her either with arms or with hostile arrangements of trade if she is willing to associate herself with us and the other peace- loving nations of the world in covenants of justice and law and fair dealing. We wish her only to accept a place of equality among the peoples of the world, -- the new world in which we now live, -- instead of a place of mastery."

Document Source: Avalon Project, Yale University.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Alan Seeger's Rendezvous with Death

Allan Seeger, Poems, 1916.

Great War Poems

On Being Asked for a War Poem

I think it better that in times like these
A poet’s mouth be silent, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;
He has had enough of meddling who can please
A young girl in the indolence of her youth,
Or an old man upon a winter’s night.

 W. B Yeats (1915)

      John McCrae (Second Ypres, April, 1915)

Poetry of the First World War

Dedication to Robert Service's Rhymes of a Red Cross Man, 1916.

Poetry Books of the First World War available online at Google Books:

Allan Seeger's Poems, 1916.

Robert Service's Rhymes of a Red Cross Man, 1916.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Battle of the Somme

This battle took place in the southern part of the British line, it was the bloodiest war ever. The Allies demonstrated how important it was to have the most modernist machine guns. With modern machine guns any country would extend their power and take over other countries easily. The purpose of this battle was to draw the German forces away from Verdun. On July 1st of 1916, the British lost about 57,000 causalities and 19, 000 resulted dead. Future Germans leaders participated in this horrible battle.

This battle was appointed by General Sir Douglas Haig. He had military experiences so he was the right person to direct it. His plan was to take off the pressure of the allied French at Verdun. In this battle the Germans troops were force to return to their trenches because they were attack with machine guns. The French bombardment lasted for eight days without stopping in the German lines, their main target was to destroy the entire forward defense and take possession of the German lines. When the battle had ended, the British and French had gained 12 kilometers of ground.

The outcome of the war involved the killing of thousand of soldiers and innocent people. As a result, General Douglas Haig gained was given the title of being “The Butcher of Somme” to make him consciously aware of the many losses in this battle.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Conscience and Compulsion

In this essay written by Dewey he discusses the morlaity issues that faces Americans. The morality issue is not just the entering of World War I, but also how we discuss and treat our soldiers going off to fight in Europe. Dewey complements the way President Wilson led the nation into battle by creating an idea that the nation is just in doing so, and that that if we do not fight and defeat Germany, they will take over the globe. Dewey also writes that America should have as much as support as their our men going off to fight in battle. He wants all print media to stop questiong the idea of going off to battle but rather support the effort at home.
Dewey also adresses the issue of American pacificism. He tells that America not joining the war effort at seas was not an act of fear or cowardice, but one of rational and proper thinking. To not enter the war was good for American business, followed Christian beliefs, and was morally correct. But under Wilson's leadership fighting the war effort was not only just, but for the right reasons.