Posted 12 January 2011 - 09:57 PM
A few good points there re the "commemoration" of the beginning of The Great War. It's an important anniversary, which should be given remembered just as much as the end of the war (and it's aftermath).
I've thought long and hard about remembrance this last while. Part of my own personal remembrance will be a book about my grandfather and his battalion during the fighting on the Somme in 1916. This is fair enough, as it goes, but it's only one aspect of this huge and devastating conflict. Something of relevance to me may not be of relevance to someone else. Which dates are important? Which battles? They're all important,...yet not. What is important? The men (and women and horses, etc) are important. When we talk of battles, what do we really remember? We remember Sargent Soandso, Private Thingy and General Wosname. We remember what they did, when they did it and where. Why they did it is a very difficult question to answer. Duty, honour, faith, king and country, all cliches, but for some the truth. Others? "Well they bombed me Nan's chip shop, didn't they!? -Them and their flying dirrirgjib....balloons! I'm off to give 'em wot!!" The socio-political commentaries.
In the end all we can really do is remember people. By remembering people we remember what they did, and what they left behind. There is no way this can be achieved on national media, I mean where would the space in the television schedules be for "Strictly come Jungle" or "Streetenders"? To me the realistic way to remember will, and can only be, local. Councils, schools, libraries, etc. The national events will be, for better or worse, the "premier" events of WW1. Somme, Gallipoli, etc.
Enough rambling! Here's the nub of my idea.
My WW1 familial connections are 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and 7th RHR (Black Watch). The Argylls? I dunno yet. 7th Black Watch however I have an idea for, which I think may be feasible.
It is thus. The reforming of the 7th . What I propose is to find a picture of every man who served with the 7th in WW1 and display them as a complete unit. We've all seen the names on memorials and to many that is all that they will ever be, just names. By simply adding a photo to a name one can begin to see the person behind that name and through that their story, and the story of The Great War. In 2014 the first batch of photos will be those who were already in the battalion. As time goes by to 2018 more photos are added. These will be the photos of those who enlist after the outbreak of war, who joined the battalion. This way the observer can see how the war developed, how it affected local communities. "Why did so many men join the battalion on this day?" "They're there to replace those who died." It would hopefully give people a sense of the times, of the sacrifice (for wont of a better word) of not only the men, but also communities as they are left bereft of young men.
Each photo would have the name and number of each man, hopefully with a short bio. On days when an individual is killed then something should be done to mark it somehow. Perhaps a red poppy is fixed to the photo to signify KIA? Also some other method to signify a permanent wounding?ie invalided out of the fighting. This would give people a chance to see not only how many were killed, as is indicated by war memorials, but how many survived and in what condition. It would be a way to remember the survivors as well as those who didn't.
It's a big project, but not un-feasible. As yet I have no idea about how to do this. Who to contact, etc? I do know I'd like it to be in Dunfermline, as it was where my grandfather was from. I do know he was proud to be from Dunfermline, he lived there till his death. He didn't want to live anywhere else. For me it's the right location.
Enough, enough rambling!