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.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Seek and You Shall Find

Keeping up with this site and the project it supports can be done by following our Facebook Page, and Twitter Feed.  Any suggestions, questions or comments, please forward them to me here: ifyebreakfaith@gmail.com.

Special thanks to GreatWar FouteenEighteen for posting a reading suggestion on our Group Page.  I deeply encourage this type of contribution.  "If Ye Break Faith" is primarily about the perpetuation of the education of history.  If you have something to share, please do so.  It would be a pleasure to see an open dialogue not just between myself and the audience, but all of us as members of "If Ye Break Faith."

As far as history education goes, I may actually be doing more than I realise without doing anything in particular.  Let me explain that.  One of the great tools at my disposal with this blog site is a fairly comprehensive statistic counter.  I can see where my site traffic is coming from, even to Google search terms that netted in a visit.  I really get a kick out of some of the searches that have wound people up on our shores, sometimes the connection to subject matter and search term is quite tenuous, and other times intent is clear.  Students needing to research certain aspects of the war have been, little by little, drawn to our work here.  The most popular search parameters this week have to do with the Home Front during the war; and in the past hot topics have been medical treatment of the wounded, the dissemination of what countries were involved in the war and on which side, along with a host of other subjects I've touched upon.  Occasionally, I have found people coming to IYBF while searching for a particular bit of history, information on a family member usually.  It's a shame that I can't trace who made the searches, because I'd like to be able to help them with their quest.  Remember, IYBF was initiated to tell personal stories, to bring humanity to history, so it feels a bit of a failure when this site cannot provide information being sought.

The delight is that somewhere out there might be a student writing an essay on the Great War who has used information I've imparted to help formulate their thoughts.  In a way, I'm teaching.  Which is kind of cool because I really haven't had opportunity to teach in the formal sense since I left the army (where I was an instructor) and I enjoy the idea of spreading knowledge.

You see, I once (very briefly) tried to market myself as a "Freelance Historian."  It sounds a bit of a strange concept, but what I was finding was that people keen on their genealogy were now able to receive huge amounts of documented information via "Ancestry" sites.  The problem was that most of these people had no understanding of the context or relevance of some of the information they had come to possess.  Someone was needed to interpret for them the significance.  A case in point if a friend's mother-in-law receiving a box of memorabilia from her father who had just passed away.  He had been with the Essex Scottish (2nd Canadian Division) at Dieppe in 1942, where he was taken prisoner.  There was a treasure trove of items, from the correspondence between the soldier's mother and the Red Cross for six agonizing months trying to determine if her son was a prisoner of war or worse, to lapel pins and badges, one of them a Hitler Youth button celebrating "FurhersTag" (Quite a different way to spend the 20th of April back then, eh?) It was a very rewarding afternoon, as I got to handle a wide assortment of physical history and be able to piece a little of this man's story together which I hope helped his daughter to better understand what he went through.

What I like is that I really do gain a sense of satisfaction by believing that something I may have written has helped to foster understanding of the past.  That this so far has been on a very small scale makes me anticipate the opportunity to address a wider audience as the reward of a feeling of worth will be proportional, and how fantastic would that be?

Let me encourage you then, to submit questions, topic suggestions or anything you'd like for us to look into.  I look forward to this space becoming far more interactive than it is now, even to the point of members helping members with research, interpretation and understanding; making this site an open forum to discuss the historical relevance of the First World War with the power to spread that message through further education, efforts to preserve the physical links we have to our past and keeping the gratitude for our veterans present throughout the year.  That is what "If Ye Break Faith" is meant to do, what it definitely has the potential to to do so, and needs your help in order to enable it to do so.

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