Those who know me know that I love my country. I love that we are free and have freedoms not afforded to most countries in this world, including the right to disagree.
This week it came out Nike is pulling its Air Max 1 Quick Fourth of July sneakers due to some people potentially finding the Betsy Ross Flag offensive. I actually loved the design and what the design was meant for: to help renew patriotism in our nation.
Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback well-known for kneeling during the National Anthem, felt the Betsy Ross Flag is offensive because it reflects an unfortunate time in our history with slavery. I respect his opinion, but I disagree.
Do not get me wrong, I totally and wholeheartedly agree slavery was wrong, and, yes, it did give our red, white and blue a black eye. I am grateful we finally came to our senses and abolished the hideous practice. However, at this point in life nothing can change the mistake that has already been made.
I often tell my children if you want to know the future you need to study the past: the good, the bad and the ugly. Throughout the ages history has repeated itself no matter how many times people in whatever era has said enough is enough.
How does the cycle end? Not by erasing the past but studying the past and learning from mistakes so they don’t become the mistakes of the future. That opens the door to allow us to celebrate how far we have come.
If we erase the past, we cease to honor the ones who made the stand to inspire the change. We can be encouraged by their actions to keep true to the change that so many people died to make happen.
I think part of it is the younger generation. We have become so technologically sophisticated we have truly forgotten all of the facts, good and bad.
No one wants to study history anymore because you can find out everything you think you need to know in five minutes on the internet. Schools lack funding for history books and with hundreds of television channels the younger generation isn’t interested in watching documentaries on the past.
Everything is so much a given nowadays we fail to recognize the hard work which was laid in the foundations of this country up to the modern day.
The history of the Holocaust faces some of the same issues. There are some people who say the Holocaust never happened and believe it was no big deal. Try saying that to the family members of the millions who were killed in concentration camps — as any real study of history clearly shows.
Have we learned from that? Not completely, as genocide is still going on in this world today. Again, history tends to repeat itself.
It is important to study history to prevent mistakes from happening again but also to be reminded of the times progress was made for the better to learn from both. Not to dwell on either because then anger and self-righteousness can develop.
I cannot stress enough studying history to learn from all points of view. The history of the United States is very important for this nation’s future.
Too many men and women, red, brown, yellow, black and white as in the children’s song, throughout the nation’s 400 years of history have stood up to make a change. Erasing the past doesn’t eliminate the problem, it only hides it.
Let us embrace our past so we can learn from it and make that change so the cycle of history repeating itself can be broken, and we can truly stand free. n
Susan Amundson is managing editor of The Columbian-Progress. She may be reached at (601) 736-2611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.