Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

100 Years Ago

It was their wedding anniversary.  This photo was taken on June 28, 1914, five minutes before the world would begin to unravel.  Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, are seen leaving a state visit at the town hall in Sarajevo.  They would be dead within the hour at the hand of an assassin.  Various diplomatic threats and maneuvers were triggered by the killings but a month later, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and the largest bloodletting the world had ever seen began. 

They were an odd and touching love story.  Despite being a Czech countess, she was considered "common" in Austria-Hungary.  Franz Ferdinand married her against the wishes of his father Emporer Franz Joesph who only agreed to the union under the stipulation that no child of the marriage could ascend to the throne.  Emporers were nothing to trifle with in 1914.  She wasn't even allowed to sit next to him at state dinners. The only exception was when he was in military status, in uniform.  When his father ordered him to go to Sarajevo and review troops, it was the perfect occasion for an unimpeded excursion with his beloved Sophie.  His last words implored her to live for the sake of their three children.

In the event, one could consider Franz Ferdinand and Sophie the first two of the 16,000,000 casualties and 21,000,000 wounded of the "great" war.  My favorite posts about Armistice Day [November 11] are here and here.

In England, they have created the most wonderful memorial of the start of World War I.  888,246 ceramic poppies, one for each British soldier that died, placed at the Tower of London...

The young nation The United States of America entered the war in 1917 after clinging futilely to neutrality for several years.  President Wilson gave his commander, General John Pershing, only two directives. The first was to under no circumstances place American troops under the command of British or French generals.  The second was to win the war and get home.  "Black Jack" Pershing accomplished both tasks.  The first major American engagement was to relieve allied infantry who had been fighting established enemy positions in Bellau Wood.  It was a serious task...

And many of our Marines remain there to this day...

In America, we started off honoring Armistice Day on November 11 but in 1954 we changed the day to Veterans Day.  And with good reason.  There have been so many more that served and died than anyone  thought could possibly be needed after 11:11 a.m. on 11/11/18 when World War I ended.  People in 1918 never thought that such an effort, such a sacrifice, could ever be required again in a civilized world.  They were right. For twenty years.

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