The Human Link to The Great War

Reading about everyone’s thoughts on The Great War and what links we have found to connect with make me realize something. I am 38 years old. When I was a child in the 80’s, the last wave of World War 1 veterans were living as grandparents, speakers at elementary schools, and standing at attention honoring their departed friends at memorials. According to The Telegraph, the last living WWI veteran passed away just a few years ago at the age of 110. Florence Green joined the Women’s Royal Air Force of England during the war. And according to this source,¬†, she only served two months at an air base in England. But it is interesting to note that it still places her in league with those who served.

Two more last survivors who have passed and are recognized in this article issued February 7, 2012 include:

“Last May the only living male First World War combat veteran, British-born sailor Claude Choules, died in Australia at the age of 110.

Britain’s last survivor of the First World War trenches Harry Patch – known as ‘The Last Tommy’ – who died in July 2009 aged 111.” (The Telegraph, see link above)

We can listen to podcasts, watch old new footage, read books, and look at pictures. But we will never be able to shake the hand of a World War I veteran again. The 100th Anniversary of the end of World War 1 is coming, but we have lost every living person that connects us to that time. I’ve met Tuskegee Airmen, shaken the hand of a B-17 bomber pilot who was shot down during WWII, and listened to a WWI vet speak of his experiences at my elementary school in 1987. Is it enough to know I’ve made a small connection to people? They are flesh and blood in my mind and it feels like carrying that memory hurts because they are gone or will be gone by the time my daughters have grown up.


3 thoughts on “The Human Link to The Great War

  1. All of this really hit me hard. The fact that these people that put their life on the line and lived through the horrible things we have heard about and are reading about are no longer with us. I am so happy that you were able to make this connection with these individuals and service men and I am glad that they were able to touch your life in some way. I think your comment about carrying their memory with you even if they are no longer here. It hurts because we can never get them back or have them here with us again, but you now have these stories about the times that your life has been affected that you can continue to tell your children and they will be able to tell their children. By this way of oral storytelling, we are able to keep their legacy alive, even if we did not face the difficulties they did but we can tell their story of how they touched us and left a mark on us.

    I do agree, though, that it is very sad to think about this.

  2. I think your post really hits home for me what was mentioned in class the other day about the lost generation. War really does produce such a profound and jarring lose of life.

  3. Something that always catches me is that when we lose the last remaining members of a group, we often times lose their stories. Sure we have what has been written, told, and catalogued, but what about the things we missed? The stories that were never told? It’s almost as if when these people pass, the history dies with them.

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