Tag Archives: history

The greatest time machines

“Two of the greatest time machines ever invented are called memory and imagination.” — Ashleigh Brilliant It’s beginning to look as if this winter will mean a lot of time indoors for most of us.  So it’s a great chance for some time travel!  Pick up a historical novel (and feel free to share recommendations …

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We come home, eventually

“Our ancestors derived less from life than we do, but they also expected much less and were less intent on controlling the future. We are of the arrogant generations who believe a lasting happiness was promised to us at birth.” ― Amin Maalouf “We return to the lives of those who have gone before us, …

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Indistinguishable elements

Dear blog readers, Yesterday afternoon Jeff and I got shocking news of the unexpected death of a dear family member, Larry.  Those of you who read the comments may already know of him through his thoughts that he often posted here.  Larry was the husband of Jeff’s younger sister, Jennifer. He died Saturday at their …

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The past is beautiful

“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.” ― Virginia Woolf Reading this quote, I can only wish that Woolf had thought of these words before she took …

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In a fast-moving world

“A friend of the first man to fly an airplane, Lindbergh lived long enough in a fast-moving world to befriend the first man to walk on the moon.” — A. Scott Berg Isn’t it astounding how rapidly the world is changing?  Maybe it’s my imagination, or my limited knowledge of history, but when I look …

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Courage undaunted

“Of courage undaunted, possessing a firmness and perseverance of purpose which nothing but impossibilities could divert from its direction, careful as a father of those committed to his charge, yet steady in the maintenance of order and discipline, intimate with the Indian character, customs, and principles; habituated to the hunting life, guarded by exact observation …

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A kind of introduction

“History is a kind of introduction to more interesting people than we can possibly meet in our restricted lives; let us not neglect the opportunity.” — Dexter Perkins It’s not surprising that the people who tend to show up in history books are interesting types.  But as I’ve often said here, I think everybody is …

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It is all there

“London has the trick of making its past, its long indelible past, always a part of its present. And for that reason it will always have meaning for the future, because of all it can teach about disaster, survival, and redemption. It is all there in the streets. It is all there in the books.” …

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Due gratitude and respect

“Thus the hurry of spirits, that ever attends the eager pursuit of fortune and a passion for splendid enjoyment, leads to forgetfulness; and thus the inhabitants of America cease to look back with due gratitude and respect on the fortitude and virtue of their ancestors, who, through difficulties almost insurmountable, planted them in a happy …

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Like a hand waving

“Time was passing like a hand waving from a train that I wanted to be on.” — Jonathan Safran Foer This has to be one of the most evocative analogies I’ve ever known.  It captures perfectly the wistful experience of watching years roll away, just far enough from us to be out of reach. It …

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A kind of artist

“We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist.” — Wendell Berry History tells us much about the wide-ranging though conflicted brilliance of Thomas Jefferson.  Aside from his celebrated love of books, farming may have been his greatest passion. He and his trusted gardener …

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Out of confusion

“I feel anxious for the fate of our Monarchy or Democracy or what ever is to take place. I soon get lost in a Labyrinth of perplexities, but whatever occurs, may justice and righteousness be the Stability of our times, and order arise out of confusion. Great difficulties may be surmounted, by patience and perseverance.”— …

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The past belongs

“It’s not that I belong to the past, but the past belongs to me.” — Mary Antin We can only wonder about the future, but in a very real sense, the past does belong to us.  Not only our own individual past, but the entire past, all of recorded history and much of unrecorded history …

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The light of the past

“…everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us…on the inside, looking out.” ― Jonathan Safran Foer I think it’s interesting that the rapidly accelerating understanding of genetics is co-occurring with an increase in hobbies related to ancestry.  Scrapbooking, photography, genealogy, cultural studies, family reunions and organized …

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A vast university

“The whole of Paris is a vast university of Art, Literature and Music… it is worth anyone’s while to dally here for years. Paris is a seminar, a post-graduate course in everything.”  — James Thurber People who love Paris and didn’t love school might not agree with Thurber, but I connected with his description immediately.  …

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The articulate audible voice

“In books lies the soul of the whole Past Time: the articulate audible voice of the Past, when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream.” — Thomas Carlyle There’s at least one realm where the past, present and future really do co-exist, and that is in the world of …

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Where there is no danger

“What kind of man would live where there is no danger? I don’t believe in taking foolish chances. But nothing can be accomplished by not taking a chance at all.” — Charles Lindbergh On this day in 1918, the U. S. Postal Service issued its first airmail stamp.  The price was 24 cents, equal to …

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The way you see

“Your past is important because it brought you to where you are, but as important as your past is, it is not nearly as important as the way you see your future.” ― Tony Campolo Some of us are fascinated with history, seeing many lessons in the past, and finding much to like there.  Others …

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The last best hope

“The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation…We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth.” —Abraham Lincoln First time visitors to Washington DC often notice that the various monuments located near the mall appear much closer to each other …

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Very valuable

“What a pity that I didn’t keep my childhood – it would be very valuable now.” — Ashleigh Brilliant One year ago today, I wrote about the April birthday shared by my father and my brother.  I had forgotten that my father’s father, who died when I was a baby, had almost had the same birthday.  …

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A nation that does not know

“In the words of a very famous dead person, ‘A nation that does not know its history is doomed to do poorly on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.’…We constantly see surveys that reveal this ignorance, especially among our high school students, 78 percent of whom, in a recent nationwide multiple-choice test, identified Abraham Lincoln as ‘a …

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On my farm

“I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.” ― George Washington Washington didn’t just say those words, he lived them.  At the close of the American Revolution, and again at the end of his presidency, he willingly set aside his power and returned to Mount Vernon.  Strolling the grounds of …

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Rivers are roads

“Rivers are roads that move.” — Blaise Pascal I’ve always been fascinated by maps; I could literally sit and study them for hours.  One of the first things I noticed as a child, when I would look at maps, is how the cities of America seemed to cluster along rivers and coasts.  There’s a logical …

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To look forward

We interrupt these regularly scheduled repeat postings to bring you a tribute I published here back in 2017. Rest in peace, Mr. Aaron. Unlike so many tarnished sports heroes, your legacy will always shine. We will always remember you. “I didn’t have particular baseball heroes in those days…I didn’t relate to baseball players, even though …

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Time and culture

“You’ve got to marinate your head, in that time and culture. You’ve got to become them.” ― David McCullough I think one of the best and quickest ways to defeat despair is to read a bit of history and contemplate what life used to be like.  I’ve found that nonfiction often seems best for this, …

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