The Great War of 1914-18—it became the First World War only in tragic retrospect—was the seminal event of the 20th century. Its after-effects reverberate in our day.
One might argue that the 20th century actually began with the war in 1914, culminating with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. If so, then one might characterize World War I as the 75-Year War.
The Great War and its immediate aftermath (including the flu pandemic) consumed 37 million casualties.
As shocking as the absolute number is, consider what it would mean in today’s terms. In 1920 the population of the earth was approaching two billion; by contrast, today that number has passed seven billion. By a conservative accounting, that would translate into more than a hundred million casualties in our time.
At the outset of a new century, it may be useful to reflect upon leadership lessons that the Great War provides.
Just as the war affected aspects of life far beyond the battlefield, its leadership lessons have resonance far beyond wartime.
Note: Michael Epperson died on September 30, 2013. His presence is greatly missed. His example of service is timeless and can be of use to many people—including those who did not have the privilege of knowing him in life.
Where are the leaders now?
Amid the latest government shutdown in Washington, D.C., many of us are shaking our heads in amazement at the still-unfolding leadership failures of the American president and Congress.
Something else happened in Washington last week that is a reminder that there are servant leaders and patriots in our midst.
As recounted in the Washington Post, the distinguished CIA officer G. Michael Epperson, who died suddenly and unexpectedly, left a legacy of service that reflects our best national traditions.
I am privileged to have called him a friend over the course of three decades, just entering the fourth.