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Tuesday, 04 July 2017


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Happy fourth to all my friends south of the border. I agree Americans on the whole would benefit from learning more history in general, not just American history. Actually we all could.

@ Eric- Ain't that the truth...

I proudly listen to Stan Freberg's sublime United States of America (Part 1, The Early Years), every July 4th. I also try to watch the movie 1776. History learnin' is just easier with musical numbers.

As Thomas Jefferson said to Benjamin Franklin, soliciting his signature on his petition, "Come on, all we want to do is hold a few truths to be self-evident!"


If history is the study of forces that have have shaped a society and continue to influence, it's no bad thing.

Sometimes dynamics change quickly and profoundly and make people figure that they can't be mastered or understood. Give that time.

@ Ken: It's certainly not about prediction- a fool's errand at best; it's about forming a basis of evaluation, and ultimately some foundation for understanding. Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily mean the majority will take note, or take heed. War would have ended eons ago if humans could actually internalize what is to be learned from history.

Yes, a large swath of Americans now hold history (not to mention science and the arts) in utter contempt- and future generations may just want some modicum of insight into how and why we retreated into a celebrity dominated, alternative fact based reality. Pray it does them some good.

Hi Mike;

Re: Your comment about knowing History, US History in particular I guess..as it's 4/7.

Seems the "History" media can't be trusted to be factual about documented events in history? Don't those people have (knowledgeable) editors?

Washington did not fight at Gettysburg. Wrong war, wrong time.

From UK Daily Mail (couldn't find it in a US news paper):


As an engineering student, History was not at the top of my list-however, I can remember my history prof, one Otis Singletary, who gave such compelling lectures that he would often get applause from his big lecture hall full of sophmores-does that happen now? This was circa 1957.

For another view of Amerian history, I would suggest, "American Nations", by Colin Woodard.

I think of history as a record of the crooked, bloody path of "civilization". That said, "civility" is a learned behavior and is really no longer being reinforced by our institutions or norms.

It's difficult to see a specific point in history that could be clearly defined as predictive for future generations unless you can reintroduce civility in thought and ideals. Good luck with that.

To my mind, the commonly referred Chinese curse of living in "Interesting times' has only had a few brief gaps that I can see. And sadly it's usually after long drawn out military conquests. The Pax Romana, The post WWII decade etc.. otherwise, hang on tight.

Ken Tanaka's analogy between history and photography is apt, history is not the past.
‘History is not the past,’ says the writer Hilary Mantel in the first of her Reith Lectures on BBC Radio 4 . ‘It’s the method we’ve evolved of organising our ignorance of the past.’
(These lectures are available as podcasts so possibly available outside UK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00729d9/episodes/downloads)

Lets not forget America in song ... Paul Simon's "America" (or the just as good but very different cover by Yes) and "America" from West Side Story (covered by The Nice).

While we're talking about how interesting and entertaining history can (and should) be ...

1776 is a musical with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and a book by Peter Stone. The story is based on the events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It dramatizes the efforts of John Adams to persuade his colleagues to vote for American independence and to sign the document.

And then there's Hamilton.

Isn't that D.B Cooper on the right?

Without history (at least recent), who could say if Trump was a President of the ages or not? Of course we need to pay some attention to what has gone before! We may not always learn history's lessons quickly, but without them, from where comes judgement?

"there are only a small number of Americans with French heritage in this country; the major French ethnic enclave in North America is the Province of Quebec in Canada, itself formerly mostly British territory."

The French government program that provides French education to underprivileged francophone children around the world ,The Agency for French Education Abroad .has an outpost in New Orleans


When looking at Dave's picture, I can't bring myself to think about any of the long, recently-accelerating degradation this once-great country has suffered since 1980. It's too painful and I've virtually no power to reverse the trend.

Instead, I am transported to the ship on which my maternal grandfather reached New York harbor at the turn of the last century. I envision him getting his first glimpse of the statue and, probably, shedding tears over his good fortune. My paternal grandfather made the same journey at around the same time, but did not live long enough for me to know him, so imagining his reaction to the scene is not possible.

Motion pictures helped the downtrodden temporarily escape their circumstances during the Great Depression. Dave's picture afforded me a moment of similar liberation from this country's current governance nightmare. Thanks, Dave.

Statues are important ways to shape and reinforce a people's mythical narratives about themselves. The study of history has a way of dislodging those narratives, so it's essential for a people to truly understand who they are.

If you don't know what to say, just throw a short, clever cynicism. A mob will think you're smart. Judging by some quotes here, it's plain that prominent people go there too.

Brooding about history made me remember that MLK, among others who actually helped change history, was a big student of it. What Ghandi had done and why he had done it, for example, was both instruction and inspiration for MLK. Inspiration is the highest form of learning.


Thank you sincerely for your response to Ken regarding La Liberté and the mini refresher course on a slice of French history. My Dad fought Nazis in France and Belgium, and he returned with a love of the French, which was infused into me when I started learning French, from a Parisienne, in grade five.

As you know, I am a huge Francophile and my love of France and the French has grown only stronger as a result of the last elections there. At some point I envision buying an airline ticket to France that is one way, no return.

Asked about the purpose of teaching art history to undergrads, British art historian Kenneth Clark said, "So they might somewhat care."

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