Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Great War

The trenches, a cold, wet, muddy world of barren landscapes, where the air was filled with poison gas, and angry steel tornados. Death, heroism, and desperation were everywhere. The trenches were the inspiration for Tolkien’s middle earth. A barren pitiless world, it was a model for Armageddon. A whole generation was lost there. It was hell on earth, which we can only imagine or see in nightmares. The Great War, it touched lives around the globe, it changed the physical and political face of two continents. It was the graveyard of several empires.
I have several guns from the Great War. Their history is unknown, except for one. I know its history; it was there in the trenches. I know this because my Grandfather carried it “Over There” and back. It’s been in our family since it was issued to my Grandfather, an Army Officer, in early 1916. He was part of the Army of the West, whose last operation was the pursuit of Poncho Vila after the infamous raid on Columbus, New Mexico.
This pistol stayed with my Grandfather from the heat and dust of Mexico to the mud of France, and 30 years beyond. It’s really in remarkable shape considering its journey through an incursion into Mexico and two World Wars. The pistol is a testament to Colt’s manufacturing and of course, John M. Browning’s timeless design. This particular one was made in 1914, almost 97 years ago. The pistol’s wear and scars bear witness to the desperate circumstances of the war. It barked at the enemy, and was in my Grandfather’s hand when he was grazed by a machinegun bullet. Now, it sits in a quiet and admired retirement. But make no mistake, it can still kick out 7 rounds of 45 ACP was well as it did in 1918. The very few people who I let view ot hold it ask me how much it’s worth. Of course, it’s priceless.

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