Tribute and Damage - Have We Lost Sight of the Lessons of History

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The end of the celebrations of the centenary of the First World War have passed and does not leave without questioning the relations, the interactions, of the French to History. And if they had simply changed?

As the commemoration of the Armistice of 1918, the four years of celebration of the First World War, is completed, it may be appropriate to question the historical and social traces left by this memorial episode.

While the history books will continue to evoke the First World Conflict, and we will be made celebrations of the centenary, but overall what will remain of the 2014-2018 episode with the highlight on November 11, 2018?


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Some say it: The French love History and their History in particular. The assertion that may be worth answer is perhaps peremptory because nothing today does not completely confirm it. And relying on the success achieved by television documentaries or programs dedicated to the subject is not enough to make it an absolute rule.

As much to say it without makeup, the younger generations, those who write the history books tomorrow seem to have no cure for memorial obsessions or the need to maintain a historical trace that seems to them more distant.

Trace and Weight

Some would cry scandal or pedagogical blasphemy but it is a fact: the four years of past commemorations have certainly been more marked by national and international events (Terrorist Attacks, Diplomatic Tensions ...) than by the weight and trace of the succession of celebrations meant to revive a century-old conflict.


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Programming error or overestimation of the weight of history in our society? Certainly both in a contemporary world where the value of culture and knowledge has taken the form of belonging to a social elite that the Internet seeks, sometimes with reason and with success, to fight. As for the trace left by these four years, it will certainly be less profound than the conflict in itself, had it been completed a hundred years ago.

It is a sad observation that to see an ancient country, claiming an exciting story, sometimes black and unworthy, to be uninterested in what could link it to its past. Does this mean that the word is in the future? Certainly ! But she has always been! Including and a fortiori in the aftermath of 1918! So what has changed?

Perhaps it is ultimately the relationship we have with the past that has changed our apprehension of celebratory acts. Naturally, it is necessary to define the nation of relation to the past. Is it perceived as oppressive, distant, useless, ... Everyone will feed this report in the light of his needs in this area.

But, as stated above, the relationship that the younger generations have with History is today totally, irretrievably different from that which prevailed until then. History, grave and solemn, has become accessory and playful, the manuals of History are emptied to take on the appearance of glossaries filled with notions and events perceived as dusty and forbidding.


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So how surprising that after four years of celebrations and various tributes, the centenary of the Great War is out of breath? He who already belongs to history as the event he was supposed to commemorate failed to insuffler the republican revival and community hoped for, those who unite and weld a people. It is certainly a pity. Perhaps. But that's the way History of History goes, too.

 

Bio: Olivier Longhi has an extensive background in European History, a seasoned journalist with fifteen years’ experience, he is currently a professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held varies positions within the publishing field including head of agency and chief of publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, columnist and editorial project manager he has trained and directed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant and communication consultant.