Friday, July 13, 2007

History from Commonfolk

We stayed with Harmony's maternal grandmother twice over this Independence Day period. As I explained in my recent update on life post, we sat down with her and had her talk about the multitude of her life experiences. We asked her about such things as life during World War II, life as a child in rural Virginia, school days, and much more. At one point she wondered aloud how anyone could consider this interesting, especially me, who had only recently married into the family. I suppose this was a valid question, considering I had met almost none of the people about whom she was talking.

When discussing history, I find that firsthand experiences are much more rich and fascinating than the typical narratives you would read in history textbooks. A firsthand experiences allows a unique glimpse into the life of one of those people that contributed towards the history books. It allows a glimpse that you will not be able to obtain anywhere else. I suppose you could counter and say "Just ask someone else from that time period." However, people born in the 1920's are becoming scarce, and it is usually much more interesting to hear these stories from family members than non-family members. With each person that passes from this earth without preserving his or her stories, imagine how much history is lost.

I would be fascinated to talk to someone who had been alive with coherent thought during the World War I period. However, most of those people are gone, and I have absolutely no connection to those who still remain. I think it will be like this with the next generation; people who had coherent thought during World War II will be few and far between. I think of these videos as doing a favor for ourselves and our future children; they will have a unique glimpse of history. Of course, it's not just war times in which I am interested. In fact, most of the interview consisted of non-war-time talk. It's just a convenient way to label generations.

All this talk of wanting to preserve history is somewhat brought on by things like letters from ancient church fathers and whatnot. These letters are important to those seeking out the way things were done in the first century church. Documents like these let you see how people did things back then. Journals, letters, and other firsthand documents allow precious glimpses into common life of the day.

I hesitate to label this post "randomnimity." I also hesitate to create labels for every tiny little different post topic, thus creating an uncanny myriad of post labels. Since it's not often that I ruminate in such a non-jovial manner, I guess it'll just have to remain randomnimity unless I start doing lots of these sorts of posts.

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