They used to call World War One “The Great War,” and yet, as we approach the 100-year anniversary of this major world conflict, it often seems that WWI has become the “forgotten war.” While the last 10 to 20 years has seen a much-deserved heightened awareness of World War II history and personal stories of those who served in it, little attention has been paid to remembering the long and deadly war that came before it. Few stories of those who served have been told.
Will the tide turn once the 100 year anniversary of WWI arrives in 2014, so that those who served will be honored in the spirit their memories deserve? Many of their families hope so. Rick Coxen is among them, and he’s actively doing his part to help rally support around the cause. A few years ago, Rick stumbled upon his grandfather’s detailed, engaging journal from World War One. His grandfather was a British soldier who found himself in several of the bloodiest and most renowned battles early in the war. Though several comrades all around him were killed, this soldier somehow survived. Rick has brought that journal to life in his recently released book, “The Great Promise: A Grandson’s Mission to Finish an Unfulfilled Promise.” Here’s a link to learn more about it: http://www.wwone100yearanniversary.com/
The journal entries alone make “The Great Promise” a great read. Frederick Coxen was a bright, articulate, and thoughtful journaler, and he paints pictures through his writings that we can vividly see and feel. He literally walks us through a slice of history. But there’s much more to the story – a recent development that makes it even more alive and relevant. You see, Rick discovered a fascinating revelation in his grandfather’s journal. At the start of the war, his grandfather made a promise with three chums: whoever was fortunate enough to get out alive would find the families of the others and tell them stories of who they were and how they served with dignity and honor.
Rick’s grandfather was the only one of the four who survived. And though he lived for decades after the war, building a successful business and raising a family in the U.S., he never fulfilled that promise. He acknowledged his regret over that in a journal entry many years after WWI.
This discovery saddened Rick, but it also stirred his thinking: maybe he could pick up the baton and seek to fulfill his grandfather’s promise now! And that’s exactly what’s he’s trying to do. After all, it’s never too late to find a way to address an unfulfilled promise, even if it wasn’t yours to begin with. So Rick hopes that through the publication of this book, he might hear from the families of his grandfather’s three chums. If he does, he knows they will have much to talk about.
– Kevin Quirk, memoir ghostwriter, teacher of Writing Your Life Story classes, and author of Your Life Is a Book – And it’s Time to Write It!