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The Band Before Wings

If you don't know where you came from, you can't know where you are.

By Guest Editorial  |  December 28, 2020

by Friendly Bear

One night many years ago, I went to dinner with a group of friends. We were varied in ages, but enjoyed each other’s company and got along well. The youngest in our group was a young woman of about 20, and the oldest in our group also was a woman, though not yet middle aged. Both were riding in my car.

The radio was tuned to a station that began playing a Beatles’ song and the older woman made a comment about Paul McCartney when he was in The Beatles. The younger woman asked with surprise, “You mean Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?!” The older woman erupted with laughter, while the rest of us waited to see if it was a joke or a genuine question. It was a question.

After the awkwardness of the moment subsided, it revealed to me that many people only know history for as far back as they can remember. If kindergarten is as far back as they can remember, then, as far as they’re concerned, that might as well be the beginning of time.

This is because they don’t know history. They didn’t learn history in school, and they didn’t read about it, either.

To my warped way of thinking, learning history helps prepare us for the events we face in our future. History in its total is far too massive for anyone to learn in a lifetime, but focus on a relevant part of history, and a cornucopia of wisdom opens before you.

For me, the most useful history, and I use the lessons nearly every day, are Benjamin Franklin’s letters to his son. More importantly, a little knowledge of history can keep us from falling into traps.

My favorite history type class was Social Studies in 10th grade. It was focused on democracy and the American political system from the late 19th century to modern times. Read a bit about the corruption and scandals of the past and you can better spot them in the future.

Saturday, by chance, I saw a publicity poster for the 2019 movie Midway. On the poster a small line promised, “Based on real events.” I found this very upsetting. Were the publicists promising historical accuracy? Or, more troubling, were the publicists trying to tell potential viewers that the Battle of Midway really happened?

How would it be possible for any responsible adult in America to not know key events in history? If they were never told of these events, it’s as though the events never happened. History needn’t be taught as boring, rote memorization. It can be brought to life by telling the stories of the role that event played in shaping our world.

So often nations, great nations, suffered greatly when a flawed leader assumed power. Caligula, Nero, Louis XVI, King George III, Napoleon, Czar Nicholas, Stalin,...

George Orwell prophetically warned us of how the erasure of history would be a tool to enslave previously free people.

Maybe if more Americans had been taught history in school, they would recognize the traitors in our midst. Maybe that’s why the traitors are busy erasing history.