monique

Woolgathering
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2005-01-19 23:09:50 (UTC)

Missing

I've been reading _The Living Unknown Soldier: A Story of
Grief and the Great War_ by Jean-Yves La Naour translated by
Penny Allen. It is partly the story of a Belgian or French
soldier who had amnesia and how he ended up in an insane
asylum until he died in 1944, still unidentified. But the
real story is about the hundreds of families who thought he
was their son, husband or brother. Dozens filed suit to
prove that he was a part of their family but no one was ever
able to establish the truth. The book describes how,
because so many soldiers were declared missing, their bodies
never found, their final resting places never identified,
thousands of families spent years wondering if their loved
ones were really dead. Were they in a German prison camp?
Would they someday walk through the door? Their mourning
was put on hold, they lived in an endless no-man's land
between grief and hope because they never knew the truth and
had no way of ever finding it. Terrible as it is to be
notified that someone you love has died, terrible as it is
to bury him, worst still would be never knowing.


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