Lately, I've been spending a lot of time online. And by a lot, i mean, A LOOOOT. Not working is driving me crazy but let's not talk about this, it might depress me a little. As everything else in this life, the Internet has some good stuff and some terrible stuff. And today, i ran into something that made me smile but also made me happy.
Well, "happy" might not quite be the right word. Let me try to explain.
Back in the days, when i was in secondary and high school, we had History classes in which, apart from the French Revolution that i hated so much to learn about (so many dates, so many names, so many places to remember), we learnt about the 20th century. And above it all, World War 1, the Russian Revolution, the Great Depression, the New Deal, World War 2 and we pretty much stopped there, in the 1950s. Out of all these life changing events that happened in Europe (and the world), my favorite era was WW2. Probably because both of my grand-fathers had fought in it. I was fascinated by it all. And i really wished i had the opportunity (or maybe should i say, the guts) to ask my grand-dad to talk about it and tell me his story (one of my grand-fathers died when i was only 8 years old so couldn't really ask him). He had mentioned it several times, telling anecdotes and stuff but nothing really heavy and i'm only realizing now how much stories and how much History has gone with him :(
So when i found out that the "Musée de la Grande Guerre du pays de Meaux" thought about narrating WW1 through the eyes of a "Poilu" (French WW1 soldier) named Léon Vivien updating his status on Facebook, i thought that was a brilliant idea. The First World War took more than 10 millions lives. TEN MILLIONS. It's a conflict that lasted for 4 years. The last veteran died in May 2011 at the ripe age of 110. So who's there to tell us, descendants, about it all? I understand it's a war. For some, it's just a war a century ago. But my great-grand-parents lived it, my grand-parents were born during or right after it and whether i want it or not, it's part of my history too.
Leon's page is very well done. Obviously, an actual soldier wouldn't be able to update his status like he virtually does on FB but what a great way or learning more about a part of our past, using today's social media's platforms. He's posting pictures (real 1915 pictures), songs that were "hits" back in the days, his wife is pregnant and worried obviously, she comments on his posts sometimes, just like his fellow-soldiers and friends.
I'm his friend now. So i can get updates on his every day life on the battlefields. Modern days wars are probably a million light years away from what it used to be a century ago but projects like this make it more real, especially for people like me who don't have friends or relatives in the military. Well, i do, and plenty. But none of them are on the firing line.
I really hope he's gonna make it.