Families, communities, and nations are stronger when they know their history and can connect various parts of history. There is greater understanding when one knows not only what their ancestors were doing but where they were doing it and under what conditions. National and world history becomes much more meaningful when it combines with family history. Two recent experiences recently brought greater personal understanding of history to me.
The first experience took place at my family reunion in June. My oldest sister mentioned that one of our cousins went to fight in the Korean War and did not return. It was new information to me. He was much older than I, and we never met. When I learned that the remains of fifty-five US soldiers had been returned to the United Stated, I began to wonder if my cousin’s remains are among them. In a discussion with several family relatives, we learned that the remains would go to Hawaii where they will be identified. Our family is now anxiously awaiting word of the results.
The second experience took place last week when I took part in a sealing session in the Anchorage Alaska Temple. The sealer asked the couple at the altar about the origins of their family names. I thought that he might ask everyone else the same question at some point, so I began to review what I knew about my family names. I remembered that my family name came from Germany and the spelling was changed in England. That was old information to me. However, my understanding quickly changed when I remembered some information that I gained from one of my college classes.
I studied the history of the world from the time of Adam and Eve through the present time in my World Foundations class. When we studied the immigration of Germanic people into Great Britain and their effect on their new home, I felt some disapproval. However, my feelings were totally different when I realized that my ancestor(s) were among those immigrants. The connection between the two bits of history brought much greater understanding to me.
We live in a time when many people are destroying historical monuments in an effort to change or erase history. They do not understand that the destruction of a physical thing will not change the facts. A better course would be to teach the history of what happened, why it was good or bad, and what can we learned from it. In order to know who we really are, where we came from, and what we want to accomplish, we must educate ourselves about family, national, and world history. We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by gaining this knowledge and connecting the various parts of history to ourselves.