I recently took a vacation to London. It is a place I have always wanted to visit and truth be told I would kill to live there. While I was there I toured all the usual places and sites. I saw some amazing plays. One in particular, WAR HORSE, deals indirectly with tonight's topic. I recommend this play to anyone. I was blown away and I'm a jaded theatre-goer. Moving and amazing. Trust me, dirty birdies.
My guide, a funny man who was commended by the Queen for excellence in guiding, was a font of knowledge. I'm talking about the good stuff here guys. Juicy tidbits of historical cool sauce that we love here on History's Mistress. I thought I would share such a morsel with you tonight.
As many of you know, and many of you don't, the U.S.A didn't enter World War 1 at the very onset. Much like World War 2 we waited to enter the fray. World War 1 started in 1914 but the Yanks never made it across the pond until 1917. The causes of WWI are varied but the main one is considered to be the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. (Not the musical group but an Austro-Hungarian Duke killed in 1914)
Without boring you to death with all the nitty gritty details (which I love BTW) let me just say that the Germans were being bad. They wanted to control Europe. Remember this was all prior to Hitler. Some Historians theorize that Hitler was a result of the sanctions placed on Germany after WWI, but that's another blog. So...one of the reason the U.S. finally entered the war was the sinking of the Lusitania, a British Luxury liner. 15 Americans were killed when a German U-Boat torpedoed the ship. This obviously heightened the tensions and got the Americans blood up. The other major impetus for us to enter the war was the Zimmerman Telegraph. This was an encoded message sent from the Germans to Mexico stating that if Mexico invaded the U.S. they would help in getting some of their land back (i.e. Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, and parts of California) The Brits managed to crack the code and warn us in time.
Now comes for the fun tidbit part. When the U.S. Troops landed on British soil and marched through London, the Brits were so excited (in other words really happy we were there) the troops were met with an up roaring of cheering. It was the first time that U.S. Troops had set foot on European Soil as well. Ready for the really cool part? Are you sure? It's really awesome. I think you should sit down. I'll wait....sitting down? OK, here goes.
When the U.S. Troops marched through London a flag was flying over the British Parliament Building. I know what you're thinking...big deal Oh Mistress of History. But it really was. The flag wasn't any old flag...It was the Stars and Stripes. That flag flying that day was the American Flag. And it is the only time a flag other then the Union Jack has ever been flown above Parliament. That flag has only 48 stars and is kept locked away in the Parliament building. Wicked right? See, I knew you like that. Do I ever steer you wrong?
WWI brought us some advances in warfare and intelligence..but that dirty birdies is a topic for another blog.
What I really came to understand when I was in London is the interconnected nature between our two nations. Now I know that Great Britain is the mother of our country in a way. But what really struck me, mainly through conversations with my guide about WWII and tours through Churchill's War Rooms(yet another topic for another day) was how important the U.S. was during the war effort and how important we are to our Allies. Britain is our greatest ally. I learned to understand why when I was roaming the streets of London. And I'm very glad I did.
I managed to find a very blurry but awesome sauce picture of that flag flying over Parliament. Enjoy, dirty birdies, and try to think on what an amazing sight it must have been back in 1917 with Doughboys in their uniforms so far from home looking up to see it there. So remember "Over there, over there, Send the word, send the word over there. That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming.....We'll be over, we're coming over, And we won't come back till it's over, over there."