It's been nearly a year since I visited the American Cemetery in Normandy pictured above, but I was recently watching a WW2 movie and it made me remember this trip. There are nearly 10,000 Americans buried in this cemetery, all but 1 of them casualties of WW2 (with the one remaining a soldier who died in the first world war). The cemetery is huge, as one would expect to hold 10,000 graves, which makes it even more astounding that these 10,000 represent a tiny portion of the 400,000 Americans, more than 20 million Russians, and countless other casualties of the war that was supposed to be the war to end all wars.
Visiting the various war memorials around Europe you get to read stories of various events in the wars, or stories of the lives of various people. Soldiers who died storming the beach, or trying to save their friends, and soldiers who didn't even make it to battle, as bad weather, operator error, or just plain bad luck ended their lives early. These stories highlight the heroism and tragedy of war, but also the absurdity.
Living in Europe now, it is actually very hard for me to imagine the events that led up to these conflicts. I have been to Italy and Germany, and other than speaking a slightly different language, there doesn't seem to be any battle-worthy differences between them and France or other parts of Europe (other than perhaps amongst the soccer fans). Just an example of this, the game I am working on now is produced by an American company with development split between us (a French company) and a German company in the former East-Berlin. Germany and France are perhaps the best of allies these days and the two countries at the front of the push for a united European Union. What were all these old battles about?
Human beings in general seem pretty bad at conflict resolution, but when you add missiles and tanks and ships, you really magnify the problem. Now only if I had a way to force everyone to believe the same way I do...