Madison County Opinion...

FEBRUARY 4, 2004

By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
February 4, 2004

Frankly Speaking

Our history must be remembered
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana (1863 - 1952)
Someone needs to remind Kathy Cox about the above quote. Her proposed history curriculum forgets about all American history except the last century. Forgotten are Jamestown and Plymouth. Forgotten are the beginnings of slavery, the American Revolution and its causes, the expansion westward, the Alamo, the War Between the States and hundreds of other factors that constitute the foundations of our society.
We humans are cultural creatures. Our ideals, our music, our philosophy, our approach to God are all dictated by our cultural background. And our culture was developed over hundreds of years by the events that make up our history.
When our brave soldiers went forth to fight, they were defending a way of life, a culture. That motivation was greater than simply defending a national boundary. Otherwise, it made no sense for us to fight in Europe against Hitler, in Korea and Vietnam against the Communists or in the Middle East against radical Muslims.
In order for our children to become responsible members of our culture, they have to understand that culture and their place in it. Without a full understanding of our history, and the culture it created, they are no more than a group of innocents wandering in a jungle. Their chances of finding their place in society, and passing on the key elements of our culture are dismal.
Ms. Cox is correct on one point. Our teaching of American history is far too shallow. Her solution is to teach fewer points more deeply, concentrating on the last century. But our students will never understand the depths of the last century without being familiar with the centuries that precede it.
All this has developed from the “dumbing down” process of American education. It assumes that our kids have a limited capacity to absorb information. That is where we go wrong. Most of the problems we have with our children, bad music, too much sex, experiments with drugs, all come from too much vacuum in their brains. Not only are they not being challenged to use the mental capacity they have, they are being taught that they are lacking in ability. And when you teach a child that they are short in ability, they will believe it and conduct themselves accordingly.
We don’t need to reduce the content of our history lessons. We need to expand it. We don’t need to hide social, political, spiritual or scientific ideas from our kids, we need to enhance them.
When a child asks the basic human question, “Who am I and why am I here?” they need as much data as possible to find the answer. Most of those answers are in the history books. Unless they are well-grounded in history, they will never know themselves. If they don’t know themselves, they will be unable to take the next steps forward.
Build a foundation of history under the education of our kids, and they will build a greater America.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is

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By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
February 4, 2004

A Moment With Margie

Ice storm ‘paranoia’
Winter weather such as the recent ice storm and its accompanying warnings and power outages makes me, for lack of a better word, paranoid.
Just say the words “ice storm” and my mind immediately goes back to several instances in the 70s when falling trees and limbs on power lines knocked out the electricity in our area not just for a few hours, but for days.
So to this day, I still react as if the worst case scenario is going to happen: the power will go out and it will stay out for days on end.
As a result, we’ll have no water and the house will remain unvaccuumed and uncleaned while piles of dirty laundry stack up to the ceiling (actually, around my house, we don’t need days for that to happen).
You see, back in the 70s we lived in the old house I grew up in on a dirt road and ice storms for us didn’t only mean no power, they meant no traveling (we usually couldn’t get out of our yard, let alone down the dirt road to the paved one), no cooking and worst of all to me; no water.
As the temperature dropped, our old water pipes would usually freeze in at least part of the house before the power ever went out and then, of course, no electricity meant no water pump.
We did at least have heat provided by two gas space heaters.
Once, after a surprise storm that left us unprepared grocery-wise, we had eaten everything in the house that could be eaten without cooking after a couple of days or so, so Charles and I and our friend Carolyn walked through mud, ice and slush to a store a couple of miles away to buy food and snacks. A day or so later when we could drive, we rented a motel room just so we could take a shower and fill up some water jugs.
Those are not pleasant memories.
After all, there are only so many hours you can sleep or read, play board games and stare at each other. Needless to say, we began to get on each other’s nerves.
Sometimes the phones worked; sometimes they didn’t. So on occasion we were also left without outside communication. If we forgot to stock up on batteries, we were without a radio except for those in our cars.
So as usual, when our power bounced a few times during this latest winter weather and the weather channel was announcing power outages all over the place, I went into overdrive, filling the bath tubs with water (so we could flush toilets), putting water in most every available pot and pan in the kitchen, and of course washing all the dirty dishes and clothing. Then I turned my attention to vacuuming the carpet and making sure all the clothes that were washed were also dried.
Fortunately, I had just gone to the grocery store the day before, so at least I didn’t have to make the customary mad dash to the grocery store to pick up the required milk and bread.
Last but not least, batteries, flashlights and a radio were located and at the ready.
My family generally stays out of my way during these times — they have learned there’s no use reasoning with me — it’s better either just to cooperate or stay out of sight.
(They’ll be glad one of these days, I mutter to myself, when the worst does happen.)
Finally, satisfied that I had done all I could do, I went to bed with a hasty prayer that we wouldn’t wake in cold darkness.
We didn’t.
But at least I had a fairly clean house, clean dishes and knew where the batteries were (at least for the moment).
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for The Madison County Journal.
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