IU student veterans and the ‘experience of war’

This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war. 

— Epigraph to Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1929)

Si sta come
sugli alberi
le foglie

We are like
the leaves
on the trees
in autumn

— From “Soldati” or “Soldiers” (1916) by Italian modernist poet Giuseppe Ungaretti 

This afternoon, on Veterans Day and as part of IU Bloomington’s yearlong commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, three IU student veterans will gather in, fittingly, the Great Room of the Hutton Honors College to share their thoughts on what soldiers-turned-authors Remarque and Ungaretti so artfully expressed — the weight of war and, more specifically, how war affects and changes the perspectives of those who play a role in it.

The student veterans scheduled to offer their experiences and perspectives on war and life in today’s 3 p.m. roundtable discussion are:

Once thought to be the war that would “end all wars,” World War I instead triggered many other conflicts, and the concepts it introduced (modern-day warfare, ethnic nationalism, political extremism, terrorism and more) are now commonplace in today’s global vernacular. Not to be forgotten, though, is the physical and psychological impact of what the Great War and subsequent conflicts have had on those who, willingly or unwillingly, have participated in them.

“World War I was the first war that utilized modern technology and warfare,” says Andrea Ciccarelli, dean of the Hutton Honors College and coordinator of IU’s World War I commemoration. “Soldiers were exposed for the first time in history to constant artillery bombardment, and yet they also were facing a brutal man-to-man combat experience. These daily experiences caused more stress to the troops than in previous wars, and for the first time malaises such as shell shock — which later would evolve into post-traumatic stress disorder  — were diagnosed.

“Today’s warfare in certain areas of the world, despite sophisticated equipment and technology, lead to similar situations for our soldiers, who are forced to manhunt in difficult terrains and conditions.”

IU student veteran and former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst Anthony Arnold will participate in a roundtable discussion at IU Bloomington about the "experience of war."

IU student veteran and former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst Anthony Arnold will participate in a roundtable discussion at IU Bloomington about the “experience of war.”

As a personal aside, I’m proud to be part of a campus that has consistently been ranked as one of the top colleges in the nation for veterans,  offers a full suite of services, such as scholarships and other financial support, to assist our military students and their families, and regularly salutes the military service of Hoosiers here at IU and around our state.

All members of the campus community are invited to the student veteran roundtable discussion today at the Hutton Honors College, at 811 E. Seventh St. in Bloomington.

Visit IU’s World War I website for more information on all of the commemorative events and activities.

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