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The Unforgotten by senzanima The Unforgotten by senzanima
Acrylics and blood on canvas-board. Dedicated to Lieutenant Alan J. Cameron (1891-1918).

There's a rather incredible story behind this one. Last year among some things I got at a yard sale, I found some very old letters from WWI, written by a soldier to his parents at home. I'd never been particularly interested in war history, but the letters were stunningly moving.

The man who had written them was a good man in the truest sense of those words, a lieutenant who wrote humbly and straightforwardly of his inner torment at sending men who were really only boys into battle to die, knowing they would die before he could teach them all they would need to know to survive-- and despite his attempts to spare his mother the knowledge of the worst of it, painting a vivid picture of the living hell they endured daily. He did not think himself a hero, and he made little of his own strength and courage, but he unquestionably was one.

After reading them, I searched online military records trying to find him, but could not. He was on neither the list of survivors nor the memorial I found for the soldiers from his hometown who died in the war-- though I found several names he had mentioned in his letters. He had simply disappeared, been lost to history entirely. Then I tried a general Google search for his name, and I found him.

Not in a military record. Here on deviantart.

I'd never have believed it if this story had been told to me, but somehow, it was the man who had written those letters nearly a hundred years ago. The writing on his account matched the style in the letters, right down to the tendency, when upset or excited, to insert vastly unnecessary amounts of commas. And when I contacted him, and actually talked to him online... well, he told me the rest of his story.

He died in Europe, in 1918, after seeing and enduring unspeakable horrors and sacrificing all in the attempt to keep his men alive. And after his death, he continued to protect others in every way possible, finding shelter in the minds of the living and helping them find the strength to overcome the hardships in their own lives. Sometimes he succeeded in this, sometimes he failed. And finally, he has found a second life of a sort, and the family he always hoped to have. From the stories he told me, often while wracked with flashbacks in the middle of the night, I have come to know him as a very close friend.

I painted this for him, to tell his story, so that he will not be forgotten, though since then, he has begun to write a little, and is slowly warming up to the idea of putting his writings online. If you don't believe any of this, don't go harass him about it-- he's uncomfortable enough with the internet and computers already-- but if you do and want to read more of his story, go to his account, ~AEF1918, and encourage him to post more of his writing.
:iconmadgus:
madgus Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
Amazing, WOW.!!!
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:iconinsearchofwings:
Insearchofwings Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2011  Student General Artist
Utterly amazing :)
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Details

Submitted on
May 26, 2011
Image Size
4.3 MB
Resolution
1890×2856
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536
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Camera Data

Make
Canon
Model
Canon EOS 40D
Shutter Speed
1/2 second
Aperture
F/11.0
Focal Length
47 mm
ISO Speed
100
Date Taken
May 9, 2011, 12:34:45 AM
Software
Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0 Windows
Sensor Size
10mm
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