Why Is History Important?
History is important because WE ARE the past, we are the sum of all the events–good, bad, and indifferent–that have happened to us. This sum product guides our actions in the present.
This is true not only for the individual (imagine what would have happened to you had your parents never met, or had your parents raised you with different values), but for large societies as well (how would the U.S. be different, for example, if it had lost the American Revolution, or if the Spanish had founded the colonies of North America that became the United States?). In both cases the United States as we know it would not exist.
The only way we can understand who we are and how we got to be that way is by studying the past. Similarly, the only way we can understand others is by studying their past. If we don’t understand what made them who they are–in terms of how they think and act–we will make all sorts of mistakes in our interactions with them. Think of how you treat people differently based on what you know about them. The same is true for countries when it comes to diplomacy. History must serve as our laboratory, and the past must serve as our most vital evidence in the quest to figure out why people behave the way they do in societal settings. If decision makers do not consult history, they make decisions without all of the facts.
“We study the past to understand the present; we understand the present to guide the future.” — William Lund
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” —
“In the past we shape our buildings; thereafter, our buildings shape us.”
“We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.” — George Washington
Today In History
- Eric William Fenby: Musician, dies at 90 :: 18th February 1997
- Emily Hahn: Writer, dies at 91 :: 18th February 1997
- Mya Than Tint: Myanmarese author, dies of brain hemorrhage at 69 :: 18th February 1998
- Jack Thieuloy: Writer, dies at 64 :: 18th February 1996
- Harry Caray: Sportscaster (Chicago Cubs), dies at 77 :: 18th February 1998
- Richard Leslie Hill: Historian, dies at 94 :: 18th February 1996
- Brian Daley: Writer, dies at 48 :: 18th February 1996
- Enrique Peralta Azurdia: Milt President of Guatemala in (1963-66) :: 18th February 1997
- Robert Merrill: Songwriter (Funny Girl), commits suicide at 76 :: 18th February 1998
- Yank Lawson: US jazz trumpeteer (Stormy weather), dies at 84 :: 18th February 1995
Why Study History?
Why study history? The answer is because we virtually must, to gain access to the laboratory of human experience. When we study it reasonably well, and so acquire some usable habits of mind, as well as some basic data about the forces that affect our own lives, we emerge with relevant skills and an enhanced capacity for informed citizenship, critical thinking, and simple awareness. The uses of history are varied. Studying history can help us develop some literally “salable” skills, but its study must not be pinned down to the narrowest utilitarianism. Some history-that confined to personal recollections about changes and continuities in the mmediate environment-is essential to function beyond childhood. Some history depends on personal taste, where one finds beauty, the joy of discovery, or intellectual challenge. Between the inescapable minimum and the pleasure of deep commitment comes the history that, through cumulative skill in interpreting the unfolding human record, provides a real grasp of how the world works.
– Peter Stearns “American Historical Association”
Our National Anthem
Here is a video Robert Surgenor produced several years ago that tells the true story of our National Anthem.
I GUARANTEE you, if you watch this video, you will never think of our National Anthem in the same way again.