Memories of War
Young Voices in Wartime : I heard a tantalizing portion of Talk of the Nation last night*: Discussion of diaries kept in wartime from WW1 to Iraq. While fascinating in its own right, it also brought out the issue of memory.
Right as I arrived at my destination (and, therefore, had to shut off the radio, dangit), a discussion about the nature of memory was in full swing. A diary kept at the time often surprises the writer when he or she reads it later. A caller, born in 1932, kept a diary during WW2, and said he was surprised at what was there—it was as though a different person wrote it.
In my own experience of re-reading diaries of younger days, things that stand out to me later aren’t necessarily the things i wrote about at the time. Memory can be tricky that way. (Something to bear in mind when asking someone to recall stories from his or her youth. Yes, those are recolletions, but the sifting of time changes impressions of those events.)
A woman called in to describe her own diary about being in Rwanda during the genocide, and about how she went back afterwards to collect testimony (interviews) with people there, to describe what the experience was like.