June 16, 2015
Be Inspired: Visit Historic Sites
Note: This is Part IV of the Podcast series called “6 Fun & Easy Ways to be inspired by history”. You can find this series in the podcast section.
Hello history friends and welcome back to rememberinghistory.com where we are remembering history and we’re making history!
This is Robin and I’m really glad that you have come back to hear Part IV in this great and groundbreaking wiki history podcast series called “6 Fun & Easy ways to be inspired by history”! Today, we will explore the fourth way to be inspired, but before I reveal this amazingly inspirational way to be inspired by history, I just want to briefly review the past three ways.
In Part I, we found ways to be amazingly inspired by books about history. Okay, textbooks can be kinda boring so we focused on “nonfiction novels” that are true stories, written as a novel (as piece of fiction). I have read many nonfiction novels that bring history to life and are without a doubt, amazingly inspirational. We also examined autobiographies (like Frederick Douglass’s narrative) and slave narratives—we actually read excerpts from each of these sources—and discovered that, while they can be heartbreaking works, they also show how people have triumphed over terrible odds, in short, they can be amazingly inspirational.
In Part II, we examined movies about history. We discovered that many movies (following the format of the nonfiction novel) can be amazingly inspirational by showing how good people can triumph over evil. Remember we mentioned Men of Honor (with Cuba Gooding, Jr.), Amistad and Glory. And we mentioned other movies not based on true events but still based in history like The Color Purple. Very interesting in that these movies are based on books. And I absolutely don’t want to forget—or want you to forget—that documentaries can also be inspirational. Amazingly inspirational, in fact, because they tell stories and bring history to life.
In the previous section, Part III, we showed that we don’t need to read books about history or watch movies about history though these are great ways to be inspired. But we can talk to people—or listen to people—who actually lived through historic events. Imagine talking to someone who actually worked as a freedom rider in the 1960s, helping to register people to vote in the American south or talking to a person who actually attended a segregated school. Remember we can—and should—talk to the elders and hear their stories. We can learn so much from them. But remember that they will not be around forever—no one is—so take the time today to hear their stories and experiences. Talk to your elders—you’ll be glad that you did.
Today’s podcast takes us to the 4th way to be inspired by history.
Visit historical sites
If pictures speak 1,000 words, then actually visiting the place amounts to 10,000 words! There are so many great places to visit. Visiting an historic site is amazingly inspirational and moving. Battlefields, cemeteries, museums, historic homes like the Frederick Douglass (I discussed it in a previous podcast), historic churches, monuments, old towns to name just a few historic sites can bring history to life. In another previous podcast (okay, I know it’s a shameless plug), I discussed Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia where John Brown and his provisional army launched one of the largest slave revolts in U.S. history. It is an incredible place—fully restored—where this historic raid actually occurred, walk through a real and restored 19th century Antebellum southern town, bake bread in real beehive ovens and visit the Storer’s College where newly-freed slaves received an education. Last year, I visited the slave quarters at Mount Vernon (George Washington’s plantation home).
I will never forget this experience because I was actually able to see how the enslaved people lived and learn about their life on the plantation of the first president. As much I had read about slavery and slave life, I could not have guessed how slaves actually lived, the room, the floor, the feeling in the room. I have also witnessed the haunting and heartbreaking concentration camps in Poland and Germany, the stormy beaches and high cliffs at Normandy, the small village of Pompeii that still sits in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, which decimated the city almost 2,000 years ago. Yes, the bodies are still there, frozen in time, some in sleeping positions like people have slept every night since that fateful eruption. Closer to home, I remember visiting the restored old town of Sacramento which brought the old west to life. Visiting these historical sites changed me and educated me about the reality of these places, events and situations to life. I know that this is a very short list; there are so many places to visit, so much to learn, so much inspiration just waiting for us to visit.
I return to David McCullough who presented the question: Is life not infinitely more enjoyable when you can stand in an historic place and walk on historic ground and know something of what happened there and in whose footsteps you walk? My answer: Not only is life infinitely more enjoyable, it is also more amazingly inspirational!
Okay, I know that many people are rolling their eyes (I get that a lot!) and saying that they don’t want to go somewhere educational. They don’t want to visit some place to learn about history. Many people—both young and old—would say, “That’s boring!” I know, you just want to go to a nice beach and relax in the sun or go hiking in the mountains or sip manhattans in Manhattan. Nothing wrong with that.
These can also be inspirational, even amazingly inspirational. But I do want to urge you to take a morning, afternoon or even just an hour and step into history. The experience will stay with you for the rest of your life. You will be a different person. Your children will see the world in a different way. Your world will be different. Dare I say better?
Now for my David McCullough quote: We began in Part I of this podcast series by quoting Dr. McCullough who said, “No harm is done to history by making it something that someone would want to read.” Very wise words.
In Part II, we changed his quote to say that no harm is done to history by making it something that someone would want to watch.
We continued in Part III by continuing to change his quote to say that no harm is done to history by making it something that someone would want to discuss.
Today, we’re going even further to say that no harm is done to history by making it something that someone would want to visit or revisit.
Where do you want to visit? So much to see. So much to learn. And so much to inspire!
Well, that’s all for Part IV of this podcast series on “Fun & Easy ways to be inspired by history.” Visiting historical sites is an amazingly inspirational way to be inspired by history. And I hope that you do visit them and see for yourself how amazing history can be. And, as David McCullough, described how infinitely more enjoyable life can be.
Remember you can see more places that I have visited or have on my short lift to visit at the Remembering History Podcast page on Facebook. And you can hear great stories about them and read descriptions of great historical sites. By the way, remember that you can listen to this podcast on Stitcher, which is radio on demand. Just download the app or go to Stitcher.com to see all of your options for listening. By the way, I would be so grateful if you could tell people about the Remembering History Podcast and blog for the wiki history lectures and current events. We are a fun and friendly group of people who love history and are inspired by it. Everyone is welcome—even if you’re just curious about history. Curiosity is great.
So, we now have four different ways to be inspired by history. But we’re not finished yet. We are going to discuss two more fun and easy ways to be inspired. Amazingly inspired by history.
Still no sneak peeks! I look forward to seeing you next time at rememberinghistory.com where we are remembering history and we’re making history.
Bye for now!