|Jimmy Carter was the first US president born in a hospital. That is the kind of historical fact that makes you go “hmmm that’s interesting.”|
But history is more than a collection of interesting facts, dates and events. It is who we are and from where we came.
David McCullough’s new book, The American Spirit, is a collection of speeches some stretching back more than twenty years. But inside each are poignant stories that provide invaluable lessons for where we are today.
As a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Freedom of Medal recipient, I will let McCullough’s words largely speak for themselves:
1. History makes us more appreciative.
“As history abundantly shows, Congress for all its faults has not been the parade of clowns and thieves and posturing windbags so often portrayed…It was Congress after all that provided the Homestead Act, ended slavery, ended child labor, built the railroads, built the Panama Canal, the Interstate Highway System. It was Congress that paid for Lewis and Clark and for our own travels to the Moon. It was Congress…that created Social Security, TVA, the GI Bill, the Voting Rights Act and the incomparable Library of Congress.”
2. History makes us feel more connected.
“We are all part of a larger stream of events, past, present and future. We are all the beneficiaries of those who went before us – who built the cathedrals, who braved the unknown, who gave of their time and service, and who kept faith in the possibilities of the mind and the human spirit. From history we learn that there is no such thing as a self-made man or woman.”
3. History makes us feel alive.
“History isn’t just something that ought to be taught, read, or encouraged only because it will make us better citizens. It will make us a better citizen and it will make us more thoughtful and understanding human beings. It should be taught for the pleasure it provides. The pleasure of history consists in an expansion of the experience of being alive.”
Throughout this wonderful collection, McCullough offers countless engaging stories – within each are more lessons we can glean from history. Undergirding them all is a simple plea. Know your history – then share it.
History starts at home, McCullough writes. We need to know and tell stories that make not just American history come alive, but our own personal history as well.
Keep your eye out for a special announcement tomorrow about a new tool that we hope will help each us do just that.
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