History has always fascinated me.
I’ve been interested in the Civil War since my family took a vacation to Gettysburg.
I thought I might write down my thoughts on the Confederate battle flag and statues, but I’ve decided to leave them for another day.
Instead, I’d like to go even farther into the past.
Here’s a quick story about how yesterday might influence today and tomorrow.
It was summer, and I’d joined my family on the aforementioned vacation to Pennsylvania.
It’s true we went to Gettysburg. We also went to to Independence Hall, where — four score and seven years before the battle which turned the tide of the War Between the States — the Second Continental Congress’ delegates signed the Declaration of Independence.
Fast forward to last year, when I walked into the National Archives rotunda and waited behind a crowd to see the Charters of Freedom.
The Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights were encased on display in the room.
The staff implored visitors to “step in and step out,” which meant step forward, get a quick look at the words which started the country and step back to give somebody else a turn.
I stepped up. I saw John Hancock’s signature, faded with time but still obviously visible.
I memorized the Constitution’s preamble in elementary school, but for a few minutes I read it in colonial cursive.
Then this story took a sad twist.
I should take a second to tell you I’ve never read any of the Charters of Freedom in their entirety, which needs to change and maybe one day it will.
It’s necessary for me to give such a disclaimer because, since I’ve read only pieces of the nation’s founding documents, I have no right to judge the people who looked at them beside me. I want to make it clear I am not.
I did feel sorry for them.
Those people were students.
While I skimmed all three of the centuries-old documents as much as possible and looked at familiar passages in their original hand, I heard the students say they couldn’t read them.
I thought the documents might have been hard to read because the ink had faded, but I could read them fine.
Then I realized it might have been because they couldn’t read cursive, which made me sad.
I feel like I got the full experience last year in the rotunda, because I could read the words on the parchments.
The parchments must have looked like just old pieces of paper to those young future leaders of this country, which is why it’s so important to study the past.
It’s important to learn as much as possible from it so it doesn’t fade away until there’s nothing left to learn.
It’s up to us to carry on the founders’ plan to form a more perfect union.
We live in a time when we the people want to get America where it needs to go.
I think it’s important for its citizens to strive for a better future, and to also remember how far America has come.
This post is a response to Sue’s prompt, which is “history.”