Recently I attended a church Homecoming and a funeral of a life-long acquaintance on the same day. Many memories welled up both in my mind and in my heart, while at the same time thinking that within a few short years, maybe even months the experiences and events of these people will be gone forever, remembered no more. Then, too, the artifacts and things those people loved will also be gone, many to be given away, sold, discarded, and maybe even burned.

When I think of history, some things come to mind. First, I think that history is, in some sense, personal. History is about people, who they were and what they did. It is about how they paved the way for you and I. Secondly, history is about struggle, the struggle to overcome obstacles and to make life better, not only for themselves, but for everyone. Thirdly history is full of both successes as well as mistakes and failures and we should remember and honor both and I believe it is the latter that teaches us most because it is the mistakes and failures that leads to success.

As young people, we most likely didn’t pay much attention to history. i took history courses in both high school and college, but honestly i learned little to nothing. By the way, if one would say we “studied” history, I would guess that most of us only studied in order to pass tests. We did not study to learn. Now that I am older, and my memories even increase as days go by, I now want to study to enjoy it as well as to learn from it, and maybe pass it on when I get chances to, to my children and whoever will listen.

There are two instruments today that help in both remembering the past and in sharing memories and data of the past. The first is the personal computer and the power of the internet to store and share information. Second is the social media, and for me, the use of Facebook. People use Facebook for many reasons and so do I, but one of the main uses for me is to share photographs, documents, and personal stories with family and friends while at the same time simply posting this stuff preserves it.

There are many internet sites and Facebook pages and groups dedicated to the preservation and sharing of historical information and I find these exciting. I belong to some and I have created some, primarily on Facebook. I have personally been responsible to bring hundreds of people together and reacquainted via the creation of these groups which have led to reunion events. I have seen people that I have not seen in 50 years, more or less. One old military friend gave me a hat that I had left with him while stationed in Pakistan ovwe 50 years ago.

As we chat with these old friends, our memories are made clearer and sometimes we re-remember something we had long ago forgotten and the friendship is even stronger today than it was then. Sometimes, though, as we learn about the old friend, we find we have little or nothing in common now as we have both changed in so many ways and it is too difficult to overcome those differences in order to connect well. And, sometimes we simply have to let go of a person where the friction of the relationship is just too strong.

Finally as i think about history, i am acutely aware that there is more than one history in our local area, our state, and in our nation. Why? Because we are a diverse peoples and history has not always been kind. When discussing local history with someone, I always take the opportunity to remind him or her that that are two histories of our county — one good, one bad; one rich, one poor; one happy, one sad; one white, one black. The national motto, E Pluribus Unum didn’t apply. However, as I think about it more, there really was only one history because no matter how difficult to unite two or more peoples, we were, in fact one although we didn’t treat one another too kindly.

Now how do we tie in history with the future. We should celebrate the past, both the bad and the good and work toward uniting the two into one. In doing so, in remembering, celebrating, and enjoying doing so, we should work together to build a better future for our children and future generations, locally, nationally, and internationally.

Nostalgia is great.  I love looking back, to reminisce about the past.  But I live in the present and try and make the best of it by living it in all its fullest while maintaining goals plans for my future.

© April 21, 2015. Bob Haines. All rights reserved