Veterans Day at Pleasant Valley High School
November 13, 2018
Remembering World War I: A 100-year reflection
Imagine it is Nov 11, 1918 Paris, France. Half of the world’s countries have just fought a war that caused over 40 million civilian and military casualties. This past weekend was the 100 year anniversary of the ending of World War I helping create the American holiday Veterans (Armistice) Day to honor those who fought for our country in this massive war.
World War I was started after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian nationalist, which caused the Austria-Hungary Empire to declare war on Serbia. Since Serbia was such a small country, Russia decided to support them in their cause for fighting against the massive Austria-Hungary Empire.
Germany also decided to support Austria-Hungary creating two different sides; Austria-Hungary and Germany being the Central Powers and Serbia, Russia, France (as well as a few other countries) being the Allies.
Over the course of the war, countries from South America such as Bolivia and Peru and the United States were involved in trying to fight for their own nationalism and the destruction of Empires, which ended up creating completely new borders for Europe.
By the end of the war, much of Europe and the Middle East was destroyed, giving citizens in countries a new sense of nationalism and honor in fighting for their countries. This newfound sense of nationalism eventually led to other historical events such as the Great Depression, World War II and eventually even 9/11.
Quique Riojas-Berzaluce, a sophomore at Pleasant Valley High School, is an avid history lover who has helped plan the recent Veteran’s Day Assembly says this about the impact of World War I. “World War I was one of the dirtiest wars the world has ever seen and taught the world that we are all in this together” he said passionately.
“One may wonder how the shooting of a Serbian nationalist cause the United States to get involved, but over time it eventually it got the entire world involved because we need each other to help combat the other countries.”
He then continues to explain why remembering World War I should be important to PVHS students. “I think culturally, the first world war changed how we see war. The trenches and illness were horrible, and many of the soldiers left with psychological damage forever.
“It showed modern war and the absolute destruction that war can cause. As students, we need to remember the pain that was endured for our fellow countries and be educated citizens of the world and how it impacted the world as a whole.”
World War I may not have been the most effectual historical event discussed in America, but the pain that is felt from families of soldiers, the economy, and patriotism as a whole are memories in which makes World War I impactful. or feel relevant, but the pain felt by the soldiers is something that needs to be remembered.
Pleasant Valley history teacher Sara Russell said, “We have been fortunate that we have not experienced large scale world wars since World War I and World War II. When one looks at World War I, it is important to remember that our entire country made sacrifices from our boys on the front line, many who were drafted to serve, who gave their lives to those at home working for the war effort and making personal sacrifices like rationing to support the war.”
As this 100 year anniversary of World War I comes upon the country, it is important to remember that despite not having served in the war or even seen the horrors of it, any war, especially a world war is something that must be remembered by the Pleasant Valley community so its legacy and memory can continue forever.
Assembly honors 100 year anniversary of Armistice Day
One hundred years ago, one of the largest incidents in world history occurred: World War I.
In remembrance of the Great War, this year Pleasant Valley put on an assembly. PV Chamber choir sang joined with the wind symphony band. There was a presentation of the colors, families of PV alumni who went into the army were honored and a new addition of a remembrance wall was added to the main hallway. The idea to do this assembly is partially credited to our very own Quique Rojas Berazaluce.
Berazaluce isn’t originally from the United States. His dad works for John Deere and his family had a sudden move here from Mexico about 6 years ago. Berazaluce said, “The reason why I’m doing this assembly is because this is something that I want to be a part of. I want to be a part of this American society, and I want to teach people a lesson.” Even though he only has his green card, he admires the United States and wants to become a full citizen soon.
The United States itself has had quite a dark past. It has been through wars, the Great Depression, terrorist attacks and much more. World War I is considered one of the largest incidences in history. Berazaluce summarized the great war and said, “Everyone in the first World War tried to assert their dominance, and it didn’t work because they weren’t working together; they were more so working against each other.” The war ended in 1918, and everyone thought that it would be the “war to end all wars”. Unfortunately, this was not the case as World War II began just 21 years later.
Obviously the United States isn’t a perfect country, but many people still glorify the American Dream. While talking about his perspective, Berazaluce stated, “I take America for what it is now, history should not define it. It is not a perfect country, no country ever is, but it’s good. It’s better than a lot of countries.”
So yes, the United States has been through a lot, but Berazuluce is saying that the past of United States shouldn’t define its present or future. There is both good and bad, but people don’t have to dwell on the bad parts. People had fought hard for their life and their country, and this can not be forgotten.
The assembly itself ran a little longer than usual. It began with Mike Zimmer talking a bit about World War I, and explaining how the assembly came to be. He introduced Berazaluce as well. Following this, the chamber choir and the band performed “America the Beautiful”, the band played the “Star Spangled Banner”, the “Pledge of Allegiance” was led by the National Honor Society presidents and then the band and choir performed “Battle Hymn of the Republic”.
A select few from Drama put on a skit focused on letters that were written by soldiers from the war. Leading out of the skit, concert choir performed an arrangement of “In Flanders Fields” and then there was a 21 gun salute. The student body was respectful and quiet the entirety of the time. It was a very moving assembly, especially when the families of PV Alumni accepted folded flags in remembrance of their soldiers who had died in the Vietnam War.