Remembering the Great War through Verse

It was supposed to be the war to end all wars; a war on a global scale unseen up to that point in human memory. History would change how we would remember World War I but at the time, those who lived it had never experienced anything like it.

Our World War I poetry collection sheds an interesting light into the experience of those who lived through World War I, both on the battlefield and on the home front.

A first edition of Yanks: A Book of A.E.F. Verse collects poetry originally published in the official newspaper of the American Expeditionary Forces in France. Compiled and published in 1918, it gives compelling glances into the lives of men stationed at the forefront of the trenches. One corporal lamented the myth of Sunny France in his poem:

Excerpt from Corp. Jack Warren Carrol's poem. See entire poem here.
Excerpt from Corp. Jack Warren Carrol’s poem. See entire poem here.

More so that the glimpses you get into the trenches, it is the glimpses into the life of those who are left at home that are most fascinating to this author. In our poetry collection are chapbooks from women who lament sending their men off to war and try to hold down the fort at home while also mourning those who would never return.

Hit by The War : Reckless Rhymes by Marie-Rose Gabe is one such chapbook and FSU holds the only copy stateside. These poems lament the woman’s life on the home front. A two poem set in this collection, “Tommy Grumbles” and “A ‘Ministering Angel’ Replies” show the desire of those left behind to honor the soldiers who are returning and the soldiers returning not wanting a fuss.

Companion poems in Marie-Rose Gabe's Hit by the War: Reckless Rhymes. See the entire text here.
Companion poems in Marie-Rose Gabe’s Hit by The War : Reckless Rhymes. See the entire text here.

World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. However, a cease-fire had taken affect seven months earlier on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year. So when the United States wanted to set aside a day to honor its heroes of the Great War, November 11th was chosen.

An Act of Congress in 1938 officially made November 11 a national holiday, Armistice Day, to honor veterans of World War I. The act was amended in 1954 to rename the day Veterans Day to honor those who’d since fought in World War II and in Korea. Renaming the holiday allows it to be the day it is now, a day in which we honor all American veterans of war.

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