Today on “That’s Life!” we meet Mel Russell, a retired Yolo County archivist, who is organizing the project “Lest We Forget,” which is a four part, two year commitment to discuss, explore, preserve and remember WWI. The date of the episode has meaning—it is the 100th year anniversary of WWI’s start date. Mel’s work ebbs from the local aspects of WWI to considering battle plans and America’s entrance into the war. Starting with Esparto, Lois and Mel discuss 6 boys, the term Mel uses to describe soldiers from WWI. All the information currently on the 6 soldiers from Esparto is their names. Mel hopes that by going to the community she will find more information—perhaps a photo or an old postcard.
What we know is that there were at least 800 boys from Yolo County but information is limited. Mel discusses the efforts to develop biography sketches of individuals as well as the data mining of registration cards. Mel says at one point, “To remember people you have to know them.”
Lois and Mel discuss the nature of the project. Mel will return to a series of communities in Yolo County every six months for the next two years. Initially, she hopes to introduce herself and explain the project and hopefully gain information from locals in the community. During her follow up visits, she will talk about what is going on during that time in WWI a hundred years ago—six months from the start, a year from the start and so on. She hopes to discuss not only what was happening overseas but locally, too. Fundraisers, knitting events, and so on were all buzzing in Yolo County.
Tune in to learn more about this important project as well as lots of interesting and intriguing details and questions about Yolo County and WWI. From the Gold Star Pilgrimage, where mothers were brought to Paris to celebrate their fallen sons, to John McCormack’s rendition of “It’s a long way to Tipperary” you are bound to learn something new! Mel Russell will be at The Davis Library on April 27th from 6-8pm.
This project is funded by the Yolo County Library and you can find more information about the event on their website www.yolocountylibrary.org. You can also contact Mel directly for more information, questions or if you have a meeting or event where you’d like to have her come speak. Her email address is email@example.com.
In one short sentence, Mel sums it up: "We want all veterans to know they will not be forgotten."