The Great War and Historical Ignorance

The problem of historical ignorance has been noted in younger generations for some time, but it appears to be especially pronounced now that the world is entering into the centenary of the First World War, and it has come to light that many younger generations know very little about the part their own ancestors played in the conflict. This pervasive issue of historical ignorance has resulted in many WWI soldiers being all but completely forgotten to their relatives.

Numerous soldiers are being honored in light of the centenary, but not all are able to participate in these commemorations with a degree of knowledge regarding those to whom they are paying tribute. Now that all of those who fought in the First World War have passed away, there is a lack of first-hand knowledge to combat this problem of historical ignorance. Even those who are directly related to WWI veterans have lost their most viable source of information, as they simply did not think to ask their relatives in detail about their experiences before these personalities were lost to the world. While the men themselves are remembered, their actual histories are not.

Just because first-hand information is scarce, however, does not mean that there are no outlets for those seeking knowledge to gain such insights into the Great War and the men who fought it. Many are combatting their own perceived historical ignorance by taking advantage of the many informational sources being offered in honor of the centenary. This includes thousands of documents that have been digitized and made publicly available for any who wish to view them, the Mail Online reports.

There has also been an increased interest in wartime museums, many of which are currently holding special exhibits regarding various aspects of the First World War. In addition to museums, some have combatted their historical ignorance by simply visiting cemeteries and taking in the vast number of graves and their inscriptions. Sources have noted that such visits are currently at an all-time high. This means that while many may lack knowledge, they are more than willing to receive it.

The issue of historical ignorance is no laughing matter, but it is somewhat reassuring to know that many are taking the issue into their own hands. So long as people are willing to educate themselves on these matters, the relatives of WWI veterans can rest assured that their deceased loved ones will not be completely forgotten. Historical ignorance may be a pervasive issue, but it is one that many are taking steps to solve each and every day.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE