Sunday, March 18, 2018

World War I, an American soldier’s diary

At the end of this Library of Congress blog  is a link to the amazing performance by Douglas Taurel based on the diary of a WWI soldier, Irving Greenwald.  It’s very moving and quite vivid.  You almost feel like you’re on the battle field with him.  We’re in the midst of remembering the centennial of WWI—and this is a worthy project.  At Lakeside last summer we had a week devoted to WWI.

This website explains how the author/actor Taurel prepared his script from the diary, which he says was extremely well-written.

“Reading a soldier’s diary requires a tremendous amount of patience. For the soldiers of the First World War, the actual fighting took up a very small amount of their time. In reality, the life of a soldier in war is filled with a tremendous amount of minutia.  Reading a soldier’s diary requires time to digest all of that soldier’s life while in service, from his day-to-day life in training, through what it means to endure life in the trenches, to mustering heroic courage in combat.

For the Library of Congress’s commemoration of the centennial of the First World War, I was invited to write a new play based on the life of Irving Greenwald, a soldier from WWI. Greenwald was part of the Lost Battalion, and his diary is preserved by the Library’s Veterans History Project. I will perform a one-man play on Veteran’s Day.

Irving Greenwald left 465 days of his diary’s entries, and I set out in May to read all of them, with a goal to read ten days’ worth of his diary entries each day. I aimed to complete the entire diary in a little over a month. Some days I read more, and some days I read less. “

Because of my age, I did know veterans of WWI, although my earliest memories are of WWII. When I came across this blog, I thought about some of them that I knew, then pulled “War Record of Mount Morris” (1947) from my shelf, and although it covers about 500 soldiers that had a WWII connection to Mt. Morris, it includes a list from WWI, The Civil War, and Spanish American War.  Frank Aufderbeck lived next door to us on Hitt St. Don Clark was the grandfather of my nieces and nephews. Harold Knodle was the husband of one of my teachers. Many names on the list are familiar, although I didn’t know them personally.

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