Road Schooled

Lessons from the Road to Somewhere

Falling for History on the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial

Posted on | June 18, 2009 | Comments Off on Falling for History on the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC

What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past. - Victor Hugo

History was one of my least favorite subjects in school. Too much rote memorization of names, dates, and places.

I hated history in school so much that I wasn’t even very excited to visit Washington DC when I was 30.  I still looked at history and politics the way I learned them in school – rote memorization of facts. Boring. But when I traveled to Washington DC I fell in love with history.

Standing where our founding fathers once stood and reading about their struggles and accomplishments made me think. Think beyond the facts of names, dates, and places. I thought about the bigger picture. What would America be like without all the people I read about in the textbooks?  What would my life be like?

I sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and looked out over the mall.

Washington Monument Viewed from the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial

I thought about all the people who stood on the steps where I was sitting. Not just the famous people I learned about in the textbooks, but the ordinary people who helped shape America. The ordinary people who fought for what they believed in.

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – August 28, 1963

Civil Rights March on Washington

Vietnam War Protest – 1968

Vietnam War Protest in Washington - 1968

Thinking about the past made me think about the future and wonder what historic moments would be viewed from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in my lifetime.  Or if I turned around who would be speaking in front of Lincoln.  Four years later history happened.

Barack Obama Inauguration – January 21, 2009

Barack Obama Inauguration - Lincoln Memorial

History is now.

It is hard to believe I ever hated history because now that I think about it differently I love it.  History is the foundation of the future.  Be the change you wish to see in the world and make history.

Image credits: Library of Congress – 1963 | Monroe Gallery– 1968 | Getty Images – 2009

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