History, in our age where math and science are considered the top subjects in schools, we are in danger of losing our grasp of history. The story of our past, where we came from points to where we are headed and we endanger that by not being aware of historical trends. All of this rhetoric surrounding the Confederate battle flag is an example of how we have lost our sense of the historical significance of what that flag represents and means, especially for African-Americans whose ancestors were enslaved. We also discredit others when we fail to recognize our own complicity in the darkness of slavery that had deep roots here in New England. Only recently have some begun to shed a light on this sordid part of our history something that we need to be open and honest about, without being reactive. The argument is always based on states rights, yet throughout our history as a nation, there has been tension between the states and federal government as we seek to interpret what was on the minds of those who wrote the Constitution. Watching an advertisement for the U.S. Army during the 4th of July it’s stated that “on July 4, 1776 we declared that all people were created equal” but really the Declaration states that “all men are created equal,” and in the beginning of this republic those men were the landholders and they were all white. Women, people of color, Native Americans, well, equality would have to wait.
Many seem to use history like they use the Bible, they take a few selected quotes that affirm their position and use them to justify their treatment of others. You have to admit it is interesting to see how many people on Facebook have suddenly taken up the cause of the Confederate battle flag, and yet were silent all through the years of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Nothing was ever mentioned on the news, FOX, CBS, NBC, ABC, none of them covered anything related to a war that tore this nation apart, and if we’re honest, still has deep systemic roots in the fabric of the nation.
In looking at how the British have been remembering the First World War and recently the 200th anniversary of Waterloo and the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, they not only remember but honor those who gave their lives. Americans passed the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, with only Maryland even acknowledging it with a special license plate. A war where our nations Capitol was occupied by foreign troops and the White House burned down and we forget?
Everyday, those of the “greatest generation” the people who went through the depression and fought in the Second World War, are dying off. Will we remember or forget? Will we remember on April 6, 2017, that the United States entered into the Great War 100 years earlier? Our history is important, it’s our story both the good and the not so good, to forget any of it is to do a disservice to future generations.