Wednesday, January 8, 2014

History Up In Smoke

I am sharing this from another blog, Ken at Passion for the Past, regarding a situation in North Carolina.

In brief, a whole roomful of old historical documents, some dating back to 1840, were found in a North Carolina courthouse and in the process of trying to archive and save the documents, some government agency swept in and destroyed everything.  Legal records, land titles, photographs, personal correspondence, everything was put into the county incinerator and obliterated.

Read more about it here:  http://stumblingintheshadowsofgiants.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/160-year-old-documents-intentionally-destroyed-in-franklin-county-n-c/

As a lover of history, this makes me sick!  Some may argue that everything in that room was useless, had been hidden in the basement for decades without anyone knowing about them, so why care if they're destroyed?  Here's why we should care:  it's a record of our past.  If no records of the past exist, there is no way to learn about it.

It was hinted that the records were destroyed intentionally in order to save present day prominent people embarrassment over how they acquired their family wealth.  Reconstruction and carpetbaggers, anyone?  Even if that is the case, what a stupid, flimsy excuse to destroy history.  Even our less than salubrious past should be preserved, to study and learn from......and hopefully not repeat.  It's why, in the debate in Europe over whether to continue preserving the Nazi concentration camps or tear them down, I'm in favor of keeping them.  It is a painful, stark reminder of how evil humans can be.....and we frequently need to be reminded of that, lest we allow something so evil to occur again.  It unfortunately does still happen, look at what is going on in Sudan and other parts of Africa these days.  All the more reason why we need to look to the past, in order to move toward the future.

And those wealthy, prominent, politically-connected folks who want to pretend that their family wealth didn't come from scam artists and rascals?  Get over it, own up to it, and humbly apologize for your ancestors' actions.  Donate some money to a worthy cause, and keep your nose clean going forward.

Of course none of this will be covered in the news, and the public outrcry is nonexistent, even at the local level.  We're all too concerned about our new smartphones or who will be picked on The Bachelor to care about a bunch of old moldy papers that were burned up.  And that is a shame.

1 comment:

  1. I felt an actual, tangible pang of pain in the centre of my chest as I read that story. Dear goodness, how could anyone let that happen. Do simply toss history into the fire like old junk mail is a cardinal sin in my books.

    ♥ Jessica

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