If Ye Break Faith

This blog is dedicated to the promotion of educating about the Canadian experience of World War One. To discover who we are as a nation in the 21st Century, we must understand our past.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Bringing Humanity to History

Some of this intended work, due in part to the generalities of extant factual data must rely on supposition.  Very often in war, and especially so with World War I the circumstances of one individual escape the documentation we reserve for those whom history judges as important.  There are numerous books with regards to the generals, politicians, large bodies of men under arms, the overt causes, execution and effects of the war.  With the  exception of a few books, soldier's diaries such as Bird and Frasier and the notable work by Richard Holmes, "Tommy" in which he attempts to disseminate the life of an ordinary British soldier on the Western Front, the single person's story is not given much voice.

In the case of the lives I have set out to document, there is much of which we can never be certain.  As living memory of this war is all but gone, details which will be presented in the published volumes that may have faded in time will be gathered through a depth of research calling upon records from various archives and other primary sources as may be available.

We can never know, or even presume in some cases the nature of how these lives came to an end; or what each person thought, felt or believed as they came upon death in war at its most severe.  In preserving these stories I sincerely hope that I don't assign a narrative that is contradictory to actual events or misaligned with fact.

One fact is that the First World War cost Canada 64, 944 lives in the service to what was understood at the time to be a cause for national freedom and sovereignty of threatened European states with the ideal conclusion a victory for that cause leading to a long preserved  and equitable peace.  The first volume of this series will contain the stories of sixty-two of the number (those of Oakville, Ontario) who made what is idealised as the ultimate sacrifice.  Hoping neither to fall prey to extreme notions of nobility such as that, nor paint the loss of life in war as a futile waste, it is the intention of this project to deliver tangible humanity to history.  In effect, it is to assure that those who went to their deaths are long remembered as people who "lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow."

This type of human history should give us reason to consider the personal cost of war, especially if we understand them more as folks like you and I, less than a number in a totaled statistic.  This in turn might allow us to consider how better to resolve issues that might take countries to war and thereby justify the loss of life that was made to that very purpose.

Public support is needed to bring this project to print.  Comments of support, especially expressing desire to see this work continue and grow in the form of a published manuscript should be forwarded to ifyebreakfaith@gmail.com.

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