In re Davenport (2), aka "History is dead?"

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Tue, 12 Mar 1996 16:49:28 +0900

Clyde Davenport writes,

"Have we not lost the sense of being in the midst of living
history and so try to recreate the (dead) history of the past in
the present?"

As I read this, I am puzzled. Who is this "we" that Davenport
is speaking of? I grew up, as I've said before, in Virginia and
was schooled in institutions that reminded me repeatedly that
I lived and walked on hallowed ground where the first
English-speaking settlments were founded, and great battles
of the Revolution and the Civil War were fought. My
grandfather drove the mules when his family moved from one
town to another in Missouri. My parents experienced the
Great Depression and WWII. I myself am able to remember
the in-bound tracers in news footage when John Cameron
Swazey reported the Inchon landings in Korea, the news of
Sputnik, the assasinations of the Kennedys and Martin
Luther King, the Nixon visit to China, the introduction of the
fax machine and PC. As someone who did fieldwork and still
has friends in Taiwan, not to mention a daughter in training
to become an officer in the U.S. Navy, I read news of Chinese
missle launches in the straits of Taiwan and maneuverings of
U.S. warships in the waters near Taiwan with a keen personal
interest. This week I attended a Democratic party caucus in
Tokyo and cast my votes for resolutions for the party program.
As someone who works in the advertising business, I am
constantly aware of the need to follow changes in Japanese
consumer behavior and trade frictions between the U.S. and
Japan. History is very alive to me.

Then I pick up my newspaper. I read about Bosnia, bombings
in Israel, the fury of the Irish Republican army, the prospect of
massacres in Burundi, battles in Chechnya, not to mention
that business with China I mentioned above. All involve
thousands, millions, perhaps even billions of people who care
deeply about their history . It strikes me (and, yes, I am being
deliberately bitchy) that only ostriches with their heads in
sands of MTV could believe the proposition that history is
dead. I do not count myself among them.

John McCreery
March 12, 1996