We all learned the story in High School. On the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month 1918 the guns fell silent in Western Europe heralding an end to the single most destructive global conflict ever seen, with over 10 million dead and 20 million wounded. Those raw numbers alone don’t tell the full tale. The long presence of the BEF in the low countries introduced British pale ales to Belgian brewers, giving rise to new Belgian beers like Palm.
When the US entered the War in in 1917, the symptoms of its Dutch disease were on clear display. Its armed forces ranked only 17th in the world with just over 107,000 men at arms, and a lackluster reserve of 132,000 national guardsmen. By the end of the war, US forces totaled over 4 million men. The US entered the war at a decisive phase as German troops streamed from the Russian front to the West. Stopping only in Paris to announce “Lafayette, I am here,” the US forces proved an essential addition to the shell-shocked and battered Allied armies and ultimately helped force an end to the war.
Certainly, this was not the first time American servicemen had put their lives on the line for the rest of the country, and thankfully it wouldn’t be the last. Unfortunately, that continued service comes with a cost. Over 400,000 dead in World War II, over 50,000 each in Korea and Vietnam, and countless others in Beirut, Granada, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq (again), and myriad locations around the globe. The sacrifice of those who served, the few who were willing to stand up for the many, is truly astounding.
On behalf of everyone here at J Street Beer, to all the men and women of the American armed forces – past and present – THANK YOU. If you see us out at a bar tonight, the next round’s on us. Just not a Palm.