Can you hear it? Faint sounds of shovels into dirt, nails into wood, sandbags hoisted into place.
They’re growing faint with time. It’s been an even century now. Yes, during the autumn of 1914 soldiers dug trenches. They prepared for winter. They prepared for defense.
During September 1914, French and British troops halted the German advance toward Paris. They managed to force a retreat — but not a great long one.
A trench was not a new defense. Both sides used them during the American Civil War. Moats and trenches around castles spotted the European battlefields centuries before that.
But the Great War, now known as WWI, brought trench warfare to it’s pinnacle. (Or low point if you were an infantryman.)
Trenches defined the front lines. No-man’s land came to mean the killing field between the opposing army trenches. Yes, lines shifted at times. Trenches would be captured with their supplies, communication equipment, and soldiers.
And the trenches killed men. They killed with a portion would collapse. They killed with wet and penetrating cold in winter. They killed with disease.
Can you hear something else? The silence. Four long, deadly years after those first trenches were constructed outside of Paris — the guns go silent. Armistice. Peace. A generation will grow to manhood and pick up arms to fight armies across many of the same miles.
Salute a veteran today. Remember a veteran today. Pause for a minute at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.