World War 1 Assignment

The land that was tilled by explosions is now covered with green grass and trees that have grown in the years since the war’s end.

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That was the rule of World War I—an appalling level of bloodshed for very little result.

Written from the front, the postcards date to 1917.

Most of these calm and charming little towns had a small church, a bakery and a few farmhouses.

Then I visited Fleury-devant-Douaumont, the site where a village had been erased by the war. Small plaques marked where there had once been the city hall, the baker and family homes.

The names of those who died in the war are written in stone.

When I stopped to read them, I often found several with the same last name.That always got me—knowing that one family lost both their sons, or uncles or cousins.Many of them were so young—only 17 or 18 when they died.Registered readers can also search selected subscription databases.If you can't visit the Library, you can use the National Library's Copies Direct service to request copies and have them sent to you via mail or email.Before I set out to retrace the Western Front, I asked my parents and my wife about the direct connections that our families had to the war.Although my great-grandfather and my great-uncle fought in the war, they had been hesitant to share their stories, and only 20 years after the 1918 armistice my family was swept up in World War II, and most of the survivor stories weren’t passed down to the next generation.One of the things that stood out to me on my journey was how nature has taken back some of these areas.At first glance, it looks like all is normal on a natural level. I drove through French villages nestled among gently rolling fields of hay.On the front lines, the Western Front ran through France, starting near the Swiss border then cutting west through Belgium to the North Atlantic.At home, I pored over maps and researched information about dozens of locations to decide which sites would have the most meaning and visual impact.

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