Seven decades ago, a handful of top
military officials listened to a crackly radio
for information as Allied troops landed
on the beaches of northern France. Fast
forward 70 years to last summer, and
billions globally will be able to watch live
as emotional tributes are paid to those
who lost their lives in ‘D-Day’.
“It is an example of how the media has transformed our lives, and totally changed the way we observe history,” said Dr Harry Bennett, Associate Professor of History. “We’re all playing a part in creating history, and it’s quietly become one of the most democratic and inclusive entertainment forms on the planet.”
The evidence to back that up is clear.
Barely a day goes by without a nostalgic
series or documentary being broadcast
on primetime television, while the advent
of satellite TV means you can watch
history unfold 24 hours a day. Added to
that is Hollywood’s continued passion for
reimagining the past on the big screen.
That is strikingly apparent in 2014, as the
world marks 100 years since the start of the
First World War, and the 70th anniversary
of D-Day. The small screen is awash with
programmes about the conflicts of the
early 20th century, while a swathe of public
support has led to some high-profile
commemorations, such as the erection of
new memorials and the presentation of
“As the number of surviving veterans gets smaller, there’s a passion to engage with them to ensure their memories are not lost forever,”
said Harry who since joining Plymouth University in 1992, has become one of the world’s most respected commentators on naval heritage and the Second World War.
“We saw the same a few years ago with the last soldiers from the Great War. There’s no better way to piece together a picture of past events than from the people who were there.”