Personal Reflection – Historical Origins

This week we have a guest reflection post by Danielle Glazer. Enjoy!

In 1838, the president of Mexico, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, had his leg amputated after he was wounded in battle. He gave it a full military burial. It is amazing stories like these that make me love history. (I read tons of history in my spare time.) From ancient Mesopotamia to the American Revolution to the rise of European nationalism, history is full of incredible tales.

To observe AHY this week, I reflected more deeply on the meaning of these historical stories, and why I enjoy reading them. While I’m an avid reader of history any time of year, there were a few things I did differently this week:

I learned about different things. I broadened my horizons by learning more about times and places I knew little about, including listening to “Stuff You Missed in History Class” podcasts on the history of New Zealand and the discovery of longitude–two subjects and time periods I knew nothing about before this week.

I went to a museum. While it’s not a local history museum, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, CA is home to a wonderful collection of pre-20th century artwork. Their current exhibits include a display on propaganda in World War I, and the idea of chivalry in the middle ages.

I learned more about my family’s history. My mother has been researching our family’s history for some time, but until this week, I had never heard the whole story.

Because of AHY, I tried to ask myself why I feel it was important to know these things. By learning about different cultures from around the world, such as the Maori, I can better see patterns in how societies, including my own, function. I developed by better sense of my own family’s place in this society, and in the one they left back in the Old Country, by talking to my mom about how my great-grandparents immigrated to America.

But ultimately, I hope these stories will help me become a better person. History is beautiful, just as a well-crafted piece of fiction is beautiful–sometimes moreso because these stories are true. Someday, someone is going to write these stories about us. I would like them to be good ones.

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