Saturday, June 12, 2010

* " . . . condemned to repeat it" ?

Shielding candles in the wind.

It is almost trite: "Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it."

As I get older and see our civilization like a giant ant colony ever building, digging, marching on, I am amazed that we can preserve the vitality of any memory at all. Gettyburg, Iwo Jima, Kent State: These names seem bloodless, the bones of history, to anyone who did not live through the events they signify. Even for those of us who did, memory fades and emotions diminish.

Hitler, even when viewed in documentaries, seems like a stiff Charlie Chaplain character. Only for the octogenarians today, who are fast fleeing the earth, does the terror of Hitler have any reality. The cowardice and shame of the world has long been washed away in the collective glorification of his final defeat.

I just watched a video from the Anne Frank Foundation (see link below) and am impressed at how methodically we try to keep the flame of history alive.

It flickers too in the National Historic Site dedication speech (YouTube video below) of 90-year old Mrs. Florence Schroeder, whose son Bill, a Kent State ROTC cadet, was shot to death by Ohio National Guardsmen as he watched (merely watched, as a bystander) a rally of hundreds of students at Kent State chanting "pigs off campus" May 4, 1970, the fourth day of student demonstrations after President Nixon's announced invasion of Cambodia.

Candles in the wind. All.

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