First, we need to understand that we’re all historians. We may not think of ourselves as historians, but we are. We all use the past to help us make decisions about the future. We all have objects, records, and memories we preserve. Our homes are our museums. They hold the things which constitute a record of our lives. They may not be valuable but they’re important to us because we know and appreciate the story behind them, and so we preserve these cherished keepsakes.
Second, we all share our life experiences, usually with family and friends. We tell them about things we did right, and we tell them about the things we did wrong in the hope of sparing them the need to learn a lesson the hard way. The stories are perhaps entertaining but sharing helps others gain knowledge and develop wisdom from our experiences even though their only connection to the actual event is the stories we share. We all use our history to educate others.
History itself doesn’t define who we are. However, knowledge of history helps us define ourselves and navigate our path through life. Stories from the past, whether they’re glorious triumphs or struggles against oppression, can inform us, ignite our passion, and inspire us to take action. The honest pursuit of historical facts can help us understand other perspectives, clarify misconceptions, and galvanize the community. Berks County has been shaped by the people and diverse cultures which came before us. We’ve built our lives on the foundation they laid and those Berks Countians who come after us will build on what we’ve added to our blended heritage and culture.
Floyd N. Turner II
President, Board of Trustees, Berks History Center