11
Nov
08

The birth of a general and the end of a war

Quite an interesting combination of events today! Today is, of course, Veteran’s Day here in the United States, so please take a moment to thank a vet in your life, as well as those on both active and reserve duty. Without them, our lives would be much, much different in ways that make me shudder to even consider.

Turning to history, two very interesting things happened today: A famous general was born, and a great conflict ended.
On the day in 1918, the Great War — also known as World War I — officially ended. It started with a single gunshot in in Bosnia, and ended with a pen in a rail car in Versailles.

Interestingly, General George S. Patton of World War II fame was also born on this day in 1885. Patton served as a tank commander in the Great War, leading the 304th Brigade of the Tank Corps. In World War II, he led the American Seventh Army during action in Sicily, but reached greatness at the helm of the Third Army. The New York Times said it best in Patton’s obituary:

But it was as the leader of his beloved Third Army on the Western Front that General Patton staked out his strongest claims to military greatness. In ten months his armor and infantry roared through six countries–France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Austria. It crossed the Seine, the Loire, the Moselle, the Saar, the Rhine, the Danube and a score of lesser rivers; captured more than 750,000 Nazis, and killed or disabled 500,000 others.

There were times, in those great days when the tank spearheads of the Third were racing across France with almost unbelievable speed and again when they were cutting the dying Nazi armies to pieces in the final spring of the war, that not even Supreme Headquarters itself knew where his vanguards were. Driven by his iron will, his advanced units had to be supplied with gasoline and maps dropped by air.

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