Why does History Matter?

"In order to understand where we are now and where we are going, we must first understand where we have been." ~~ Professor Jennifer Cunningham


People often ask me why study history. Why should we care and does it really matter what happen over 200 years ago? Our life is a film of who we are. It is made of scenes of which the characters play a role that sometimes are heroic and sometimes villains. With each scene, the life of the character plays out and is linked to the scene before it and plays a role in the reaction to the scene after. In essence, our lives is a mirror of a film.

Just like in our own lives, the United States history is mirrored to a film and the characters that play in it are the people who live and make an impact on the country. Now you may be wondering how some ordinary person who may be living an"un-famous" life plays an impact on this country. Just like in the film business, there are many people behind the scenes which allow the scene to move forward. It is people who work every day, go home to a family and shop at local stores who shape the scene that plays for the "history book."

Many of our traditions are linked in the very roots of history. Weddings for example. Due to only taking showers one a year many settlers in the 1800s would marry in June because their yearly bath was in May. George WashingtonFlowers were given to the bride to help with the smell. It is also linked to the most common time a pastor would be in the area as they went from town to town and often could

only perform marriages once or twice a year. Of course, now a days, June is known for the wedding and and flowers for the bride is a part of the wedding "must be". Another example is set forth from George Washington. He declared that any person who became president would be called "Mr. President." This tradition has lasted over 200 years. Who would have thought that when we address our current president as "Mr. President," we are actually honoring the request of our first president of the nation?

The issues we face today started in our past and will be in our future if we do not correct them. We see topics like economic struggles, political power struggles, ethic and class struggles and equal rights among all people for all things in life. If you look at our history, you will see these issues over and over. I always tell my students to find the connections from the past to the present. Themes within our history emerge and it is what drives this country. As people of this nation, it is our duty and our right to seek out those connections and themes to connect the link from the past to the future. To see why we are where are and how we are going to change the course of where we are going. Without the connection, we as a nation, as a human race is doomed.

So why study history? YOU are making history. YOU are shaping history. YOU are linked to the past by your background. You are linked to your present by living life. YOU are linked to your future by understanding where you have been and how you are going to get where you want to go. YOU ARE A PART OF HISTORY! Learn it. Live it. Love it. Be A part of it. History Rules!

By Professor Jennifer Cunningham