“Older men start wars, but younger men fight them.” ~ Albert Einstein
“Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.” ~ Herbert Hoover
“I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” ~ George S. McGovern
One hundred years ago - on July 1, 1916 - thousands of young men died after older men decided, again, to send them to war. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the British army suffered 57,470 casualties, of which 19,240 were deaths, the French had 1,590 casualties, and the Germans had over 10,000. It was the single greatest day for casualties in British military history. By the time the Battle of the Somme ended in November, the British had around 420,000 casualties, the French about 200,000, and the Germans about 500,000.
One would think that when almost 20,000 of your young men in the prime of their life die in one battle on one day that the British would simply say “enough is enough” and just tell the army to quit fighting and go home. But no, the British army continued to execute men for desertion like the hundred or more that suffered that fate in the two years before the Battle of the Somme.
It is senseless slaughter like the Battle of the Somme that led Ernest Hemingway, who was an ambulance driver in Italy toward the end of World War I, to say:
They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.
Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.
Over 115,000 American soldiers would go on to die like dogs for no good reason after the United States foolishly and senselessly entered World War I in April of 1917. The thousands of U.S. troops who in more recent times died in Iraq and Afghanistan likewise senselessly died in vain and for a lie.