Frank Capra’s movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” has become a holiday classic in the U.S.; and likely in other countries too. (The German title is “Ist das Leben nicht schoen?” and the French title is “La vie est belle.”) In the film, the main star, George Bailey, learns just how much impact one person’s life can have on other people. In the words of Clarence the Angel: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” In another exchange, Clarence, speaking to George Bailey, states: “Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn’t there to save them, because you weren’t there to save Harry.”
The webmaster is not going to pretend to believe that this website and related FB group is anywhere on par with the film. However, the movie’s premise is still true: Whether seeking assistance or giving assistance the author has met many people who have touched his life through this shared interest in the First World War.
Looking at last twelve month 11/30/16 statistics, the website has received 18,109 hits and it has 53 subscribers. The FB group had 291 members as of 11/30/16 and that number increased to over 300 in December. The webmaster has written 64 posts year to date and he has just upgraded the “Tour and Travel” section of the website. These are probably pretty modest numbers for websites; until one consider that it relates specifically to only one 47-day battle during a multi-year war that is largely unknown in the U.S.
Statistics aside, it’s the personal connections that mean the most to him. For example, he was able to help Valerie Young retrace the steps of her grandfather during a November 2016 pilgrimage. As that is a primary purpose of the website, he is always glad when readers reach out for assistance. (Readers can read her testimonial here: http://meuse-argonne.com/?page_id=1650.)
Through his posts and related research he has also been able to meet numerous people—from both sides of the Atlantic—who are doing their own research / remembrance projects / small businesses tied to this region of France. A partial list of new acquaintances made during 2016 would include:
Marc and Elfi Calluy
Jan & Lenie Mulder
Didi Otte (Maarten was not there when I visited)
From the U.S.
Tom Cheche, photographer
Brian Grogan, photographer
Chris Isleib, Public Affairs Director, WW1CC
Connie Ruzich, professor and poet
Mark D. Van Ells, author
Readers can look in the 2016 blog posts to see the activities of each of the above.
Looking ahead to 2017, the webmaster is preparing to live in the Meuse-Argonne region from mid-May to mid-November as a researcher and freelance tour guide; and he hopes to get to know even more readers who find themselves drawn to this battle!