Have you ever tried to sort through all of those boxes of stuff that you packed away for some arbitrary day? I’ve been ensnared in this task on and off for the past several weeks as I’ve helped my mom sort through and downsize her belongings. It’s a time-consuming process for me because I investigate almost every item.
To understand my penchant for history and all things in the past, one must understand my predilection for reading. Reading is as essential to my life as breathing. I’ve been a voracious reader since I first learned to read. Not only do I love to read, I am also driven to “know stuff.” This means, for me, that if I come across an unfamiliar term I look it up. Looking something up usually leads to the discovery of another interesting tidbit and it goes on and on.
My schooling was assisted by our 1963 World Book Encyclopedia. We were lucky to have it. It was bought piecemeal until the set was complete. Each year we received a volume that summarized the important events of that year. I loved that encyclopedia. Many an hour was spent browsing its contents. Of course, it is long obsolete and will soon be heading for a recycling bin. Time marches on. It was the gateway drug to a world of reference materials. But, it’s history (literally and figuratively).
Also found during searches of various boxes was a set of military medals belonging to my first cousin, twice removed. I never met him as he died before I was born. He served in WWII and in Korea. While in Korea he contracted a blood disease and died. He earned those medals and I hate to see them sit in a box. There really isn’t any other family to share them with, so what does one do with something like that? I’m not sure yet. It’s history.
Our sorting also turned up a 1918 Senior Book for New Haven (Hillhouse) High School in New Haven, CT. It’s 101 years old. How cool is that? It’s a wonderful storehouse of culture. As I looked through it, I pondered how many of those students achieved their stated goals. The tiny senior pictures hint at the hairstyles and fashions of the time. What an extraordinary look at the past. Various student signatures hint at the wonderful penmanship back then. The book belonged to another cousin, the sister of the aforementioned military veteran. I called the school and they are thrilled to receive the book as a donation. I was cheered by that reaction. Some people might have thrown it out. But, it’s history!
History is important in understanding our past and predicting our future. America is such a great amalgamation of different cultures. It’s our responsibility to preserve the memories of what provided the foundation for this great nation, or, at the very least, to sustain the ancestral fragments that constitute our identities. History. Ain’t it grand?