Friday, March 14, 2008

History and the Touch of Gray in My Beard

One of the most fascinating aspects of getting older is seeing history revised as the players in what was once current events become less reticent with the passing of time. Roosevelt is treated differently today than he was when I was a child. Growing up in Boston, I felt the swelling vicarious pride of my neighbours in seeing a native son achieve the nation's highest office. After living in New York, I am exposed to a more detached perspective.
One sense I have gained with time is the knowledge that history always boils down to individuals. I look at the age of a person and the path of their life and I put it against the backdrop of the world unfolding. When I read about Roosevelt being elected in the throes of the Great depression, I asked my mother what she remembered of him. She smiled and recalled listening to an electronic novelty known as a radio that occupied a central place in the family living room. It was the first time in American history that election returns had ever been broadcast. With her I felt the sense of wonder as though the world beneath her feet had sprouted wings.
Since hearing my mother's story, I have always been able to feel a sense of awe in a crowd, as it occurs to me that beneath the faces of the passers by are streams of recollection that connect to our collective human experience. As time passes and loved ones close to me pass away, I have come to mourn not only the individual but the books of their memory that lie buried with them. Sphere: Related Content

No comments: