This year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, a "war to end all wars." The Great War caused unimaginable loss, loss driven home to me last month during a military law conference in Ypres, Belgium. Ypres was rebuilt after being completely destroyed during the war. Its Menin Gate is a memorial to more than 54,000 Commonwealth soldiers whose bodies were never identified or found after they perished on the fields of Flanders.
World War I ended with hope, driven by desperation, for an end to armed conflict. That hope remains unrealized, and war continues to destroy people and places today in far too many parts of the world. Some of you, and many members of your families, have lived through, studied about, or fled from war-ravaged places, and virtually nowhere is untouched by violence. Just a week after being in Ypres, I flew into Ottawa for a conference of the Canadian JAG Corps on the very day that a soldier was shot and killed in front of the National War Memorial -- a memorial built to commemorate Canadians who died in World War I.
President Woodrow Wilson's proclamation set aside November 11 as a day to recognize the sacrifices of veterans, and included a call for the United States to seize the opportunity "to show her sympathy with peace and justice." I hope you can find time to reflect on the sacrifices of those who have served in, and suffered from, war, and to contemplate your own commitment to justice and peace.
All my best,
Elizabeth L. Hillman
Provost & Academic Dean
Professor of Law
University of California Hastings College of the Law