The World Remembers is a non-profit Canadian organization created in 2011 whose goal is to name every person who lost their life in the First World War — regardless of the side on which they fought. During the 1914–1918 centenary years, we were able to persuade sixteen nations to join the project, and we continue to recruit nations.
The resources behind this initiative were not only time and money but also a belief in the power of the idea. To fully acknowledge and respect the catastrophic loss of life of the world’s first global conflict, we felt that each man or woman who never returned must be named. Over the centenary years, The World Remembers generated names-display installations in more than 100 locations in Canada, the United States and the European Union. At our displays, members of the public could find the exact day, hour and minute that a relative’s name, or any other name, would appear. This was a technical, political and financial challenge. At times when political, financial and practical circumstances threatened to end the project, private individuals came to our assistance. We are grateful for the assistance and guidance from governments, archival communities, diplomatic communities and private groups both inside and outside Canada.
As far as we are aware, no other organization has attempted such an inclusive and comprehensive commemoration. In one particularly dark moment in the early years of the project, I received a donation accompanied by a note that simply read: “Because it is important.”
Without the support and appreciation from a broad range of people, this undertaking would not have been possible. The World Remembers reflects what it means to be Canadian: that all people are equal, all stories must be respected and every human life must be remembered. Canada is a nation of all peoples, and therefore The World Remembers must be a remembrance of all peoples who lost their lives in the First World War.
R. H. Thomson, President
© 2020 The World Remembers