Tuesday, August 24, 2010


As a historian, and a human, really, it has always been a curiosity to me how time is defined, how it feels and is experienced by men, and how it is to look back on an event. For some reason, today it occurred to me that were I to be transported one hundred years into the past, it would be 1910. The Civil War would have ended nine years before the year of my birth.

I once read some letters from a relative of mine. His name was Eli. He had taken part in one, or more, of the battles of the Civil War, Bull Run or some such if memory serves me correctly, which, in all likelihood, it doesn’t. He had written the state department concerning rheumatism that he claimed he got from sleeping on the cold ground during his service. I DO recall the dates of the letters ranging from 1908-1913. To put that in a more easily imaginable context, at least for me, it is like a Vietnam vet trying to get payment for medical treatments for a malady he got from his time in the service in the early days of Vietnam. Eli was turned down by the US Government. Today, I suspect, he would have had more luck getting his rheumatoid treatments covered.

I guess the thing that got me mulling this subject over was the book I was reading. It was “Wild Blue” written by an author some historians feel dubious about, Stephen Ambrose. Some suspect he made up some of his facts and sources. That is a BAD thing to do if you are a historian. We don’t do that. If we do, well, we get called names, we get our credentials stomped on, and other historians make little voo doo dolls of us to stick pins in…or, at least, that’s what I visualize happening. Anyway, in this book, he wrote about a particular B-24 crew from WWII; that of the 1972 Presidential hopeful, George McGovern. His description is well conceived and, thus far, it is a decent read. I have had this copy for several years, but due to the attitudes of my fellow historians I was reluctant to open it. Tonight, though, I was bored and I had run out of books.

That’s not true. I have several books in line. I just didn’t feel like any of them. Do you ever get that?

So, anyway, how do you visualize time? Have you lived so much of it that it doesn’t matter? I never thought I would be able to look back on my life and use words like “Ten years,” or “twenty Years,” or, god forbid, “Thirty YEARS!” But, today, I can do that. I can remember a specific day, thirty years ago. It was the eruption of Mount St. Helens.

I just find the linear approach to time interesting. If we weren’t intended to revisit it, why would we remember?

And, just so you don’t think I’ve misplaced my D-90, here is another photo.


No comments: