The troops were often fighting nature as well: days on end in wet, cold, unsanitary conditions lead many to develop Trench Foot ( one of many types of temperature/humidity syndromes) which would lead to tissue slouching,bacterial or fungal infection-and finally gangrene. Amputations were common...and so were deaths. Much of this war was fought in trenches dug for miles through the European countryside, and it was here disease was as much an enemy as the German Army. War is an abomination, but in the genteel era in which this war took place, so much more the horror of it all.
Armistice Day was designed to honor the dead and the living who'd served in the military. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. The holiday went through several incarnations until 1953, when a Kansas shoe shop owner proposed that it become a day to honor not just those who had fought in WWI, but in all the wars since. Veterans Day was signed into law by President Eisenhower, replacing "Armistice" with "Veterans" in order to clarify the meaning of the holiday. Since that time to the present, Veterans Day has been kept on November 11 each year as a reminder of the courage and sacrifice of all those serving in military action on behalf of the United States.
It's difficult putting the disconnect together, but whenever I read about the First World War, I feel a little like one of the Peanuts gang on that field trip. It's a surreal experience because so few of the veterans of that time are alive today-and there are less every year. There is no one left but history to tell the tale.