Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Importance of History

As I am sure you know by now, it has been a little while since I have had a post. I am sorry, but events at work and such have pulled me from doing this more often. However, a recent event has made me wonder and I am curious to see what my own viewing public thinks of it. A question was asked as to why it is necessary to learn history? If the world is moving forward towards the future, then why should we care?

Now, needlsess to say, my history students are often times called by myself a bunch of heathens. The reason for this isn’t because I enjoy calling them a bunch of names, but rather it is because they seem to have little to no respect in anything when it comes to understanding the evolution of society.

At the moment, we are at World War II, an important time period in our history. However, they think this doesn’t need to be learned. Why? For most kids, this is one time period where they want to know stuff because it gives them everything they would want. The only answer I can come up with is that our society has degenerated to a point where our students no longer care about being identified as an American, but being identified as some kind of group or a specific individual.

Fact of the Matter

The fact of the matter on this situation is this: WE NEED TO KNOW HISTORY! Think about it for a minute. Look at the Holocaust. There are people who do not believe it happened. There were six million Jews killed and almost the same number of everyone else killed, so for all intents and purposes, you could argue twelve million were killed. Consider this:

Total: 12 million dead
!942-1945: 4 million dead a year
Monthly: 333,333 dead
Weekly: 83,333 dead
Daily: 11,905 dead
Hourly: 496 dead
By the minute: 8 dead

Look at those numbers! In the amount of time it takes you to read this entire post, think about the number of people killed in World War II. We need to know history because it is something like this which makes the world stop and say “Oh.” The fact that people don’t believe these kinds of numbers exist is sad. The fact that there are students in this country that have no concept or idea of what it means to be an American is horrific to think of. Our history is what creates our national identity. If we forget the past, we are doomed to repeat it.

Think of these quotes. If anyone ever wonder why history is not important, remind them to read this:

“History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illuminates reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life, and brings us tidings of antiquity.” – Cicero

“Only a good-for-nothing is not interested in his past.”-Sigmund Freud

“Each age tries to form its own conception of the past. Each age writes the history of the past anew with reference to the conditions uppermost in its own time.”-Frederick Jackson Turner

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living.”-Karl Marx

“The principle office of history I take to be this: to prevent virtuous actions from being forgotten, and that evil words and deeds should fear an infamous reputation with posterity.”-Tacitus

“We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world ~ or the last.”-John F. Kennedy

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”-Robert F. Kennedy

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”-George Santayana

“In spite of failures which I lament, of errors which I now see and acknowledge, or of the present aspect of affairs, do I despair the future? The truth is this: the march of Providence is so slow, our desires so impatient, the work of progress is so immense, and our means of aiding it so feeble, the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.”-Robert E. Lee

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree completely!! Last year my sister was struggling with her American History homework, a subject which I love and excel in, I was attempting to explain some of the reasons that America was divided enough to have a Civil War, she looked at me and asked me, "What country was America fighting against?" My sister is not stupid, she had literally never been taught anything about our Civil War in 8 years of school. The importance of history has not only been questioned by students not wanting to study, but also by educators who seem to not want to teach. It is appalling to me as a history student who truly loves the subject and understands the importance of it. I hope that the future will bring a greater appriciation of the past.
12th grade history major.