Not surprisingly one of my favorite shows is Finding Your Roots on PBS. On a recent episode, Henry Lewis Gates Jr handed Marisa Tomei a family tree filled with relatives she never knew she had and declared, “They will never be lost again”. It was a meaningful moment, but is it true? Will the future generations of her family know all she found? How do we “lose” our history in the first place?
Winston Churchill said, “history is written by the victors.” This is part of the reason I love watching genealogy shows, you get to learn about a time in history from the everyday people who lived it. It is also a great way to hear from all sides. What was it like being a loyalist during the Revolutionary War and what were their reasons for wanting to stay part of Britain. I never learned that in history class. But because of family stories, journals, letters, and vital records, we can get a glimpse into this all-important piece of what it means to be an American.
By discovering our own history and making sure it is preserved for future generations we can be an all-important piece of what it means to be us, part of our family, and human.
DNA testing has become very popular, and people love finding out if they’re German or British (though this is not the best use of these tests, stay tuned for a future article on this). But we gain so much more from our ancestors than green eyes or a receding hairline.
We are here because they were.
They were survivors who persevered throughout history. Our customs, mannerisms, likes, and dislikes have been influenced by them and passed down through how we were raised, our parents were raised, and our grandparents were raised. There is also new research that experiences can affect our genes and can be passed down in our DNA. Adding a fun twist to the age-old question nature vs nurture. So whether we know them or not, we carry with us the lives of all those who came before us. But wouldn’t it be more fun to know?
How will you discover your past and make sure it is Never Lost Again?