「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Remembering WWI

By Kip A. Cates


Summer in Japan is hot and humid. Nevertheless, it’s a great season for local festivals, trips to the beach, high school baseball, girls in yukata, ice cream, fireworks and summer romance!

This summer is special, though. Why? Because it marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. The First World War began in 1914 and ended in 1918. It was a terrible tragedy that devastated Europe, traumatized a generation and led to the deaths of 16 million people.

Why should we care about a conflict that happened 100 years ago? What has a long-ago war got to do with us here in the 21st century?

The past is important because it shapes the present. If we want a better tomorrow, we have to understand how the events of yesterday have influenced today. Learning from wars of the past can help us work towards a peaceful future.

World War I was a needless war with multiple causes ― aggressive nationalism, territorial conflicts, an expensive arms race, prejudice and paranoia, military societies, bad leaders and a complex web of treaties that pushed nations to disaster.

When war broke out in August 1914, millions of young men were sent to the battlefield to fight, kill and die for their countries. One of them was my grandfather.

Harold Innis began life as a country boy on a small farm in Canada. He was a smart young man with an inquisitive mind who liked politics, economics and history. Through hard work, struggle and sacrifice, he managed to enter university and dreamed of becoming a college professor. All that changed with World War I.

My grandfather was sent off to France to fight against Germany. His life quickly became a living hell of guns and bombs, fear and death, barbed wire and poison gas. As a soldier in the trenches, he saw friends killed, companions injured and survivors sent home with broken bodies and shattered lives.

Finally, it was his turn. He was badly wounded when a German bomb exploded. Amazingly, his friends congratulated him. “Lucky guy! You’re injured but alive. You get to leave the war while we have to stay here and die. We envy you!”

My grandfather spent eight months in hospital. It took seven years for his wounds to heal. But his friends were right. He was lucky. He survived World War I when many others didn’t.

My grandfather hated war for the rest of his life ― its senseless violence, the destruction of innocent lives, the meaningless deaths of his friends, the stupidity of old men sending young men to die for “honor” and “glory.”

After the war, he pursued his dream and became a university professor. He later went on to become a famous scholar in Canada. But he never forgot the horrors of war. And neither should we.



The Japan Times ST: August 22, 2014

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版