Revising History

I’ve dedicated this blog to my own rambling and commentary on history and social events. One of my main interests in life lies in the study of current events and history. My educational background shows I have a BBS in History from Hardin-Simmons University with a minor in Political Science. I’ve also managed to be granted a Masters in Arts in Military History (with honors) with a concentration in War Since 1945. I’ve also spent the past 14 years as a Social Studies teacher in Texas. I like to think, or at least put on a good show, that I know a little about the subject. However, I’ve discovered over time how limited my own knowledge is when compared to others. I like to take this as a lesson, there’s always a bigger fish and there is always more to learn.

As I have mentioned in my own study of history, I have spent more and more time beyond thinking of the basics of what happened. Studying the facts is where the study of history begins. In education, we refer to that as comprehension. I am sure most historians see their own thinking evolve as I have. As we gain more knowledge, we begin to stretch our study from “what happened,” to “what does it mean?” “What are the trends that I see?” “How are events influential to others?” “How does history impact life today?” These are just examples, but at least give an idea of my own thought process.

One thing that really gets me going is revisionist history. I tend to look at it from a couple of perspectives. First, history is what it is. It cannot be changed. What happened, happened. I think trying to whitewash history in order to placate certain segments of society does a disservice to the events and anyone involved. I believe the job of historians is to explain those events in their historical context. Historians refer to this as historiography. (I will tackle that topic at a later date. If you want to jump ahead, feel free to Google it). At the end of a research segment, a personal spin can be added in the conclusion and commentary. However, during the actual presentation of research, events must be presented in a neutral manner. Again history cannot be changed. It is what it is.

That said, some people claim revisionists are trying to change history. That certainly may be the case. However, conservative thinkers will claim liberals are trying to whitewash history while liberal thinkers are will claim conservatives are not telling the full story. I hate the idea of cleaning history, even the parts that make my own culture look bad. Every society has its bad apples and I think it is important to know all aspects of history in order to avoid similar problems in the future. On this same note, I believe history is all revisionist in that any new information that is discovered should be added to the overall historical picture. This is essential to ensuring future generation can get a full view of the past from multiple perspectives in order to have the greatest vision of the past as possible.

This revisionist theory is at a crossroads in the media. The conflict over the Confederate flag is huge. The fact that it flew over the south during the Civil War naturally leads some to automatically say it is a sign of racism and slavery. Others will simply say it is a sign of southern pride. The contentious debate over the causes of the Civil War still rages.  (Again, I see another blog topic on the causes of the Civil War). Some groups are pushing to end the flying of the Confederate flag as well as taking down, modifying, or moving monuments to Confederate soldiers. By removing these parts of US History, segments are taken away and lost to history simply because certain segments did not like what happened. The Civil War was horrific, and both sides of the causation argument have good, valid points. What happened in the South is still part of a heart breaking time in history. This division between North and South could be felt immediately after the war. Sectionalism continued to raise its dirty head during Reconstruction, leading to many problems and fewer solutions. Southern ideas are still prevalent in the US. They have been since colonization in the 1600s and are still felt today. Revising the people and history of the south does not change its contribution to history. (Perhaps the history of American slavery will be a future blog topic. I can sense it becoming one).

It is important that we revise history by adding to it, not taking away. The future must know the past, warts and all, in order to truly paint the most accurate picture of the past.

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Chris McMillan

I consider to be myself somewhat of a pretty cool nerd. I have a BBS in History from Hardin-Simmons University and I graduated with honors with an MA in Military History with a concentration on War Since 1945 from the American Military University. Needless to say I love history. When I'm not studying history I'm also keeping track of MLB and my Texas Rangers. I'm also an avid fan of fitness and putting rounds downrange when the time presents itself. I enjoy shooting so much I got Uncle Sam to pay me to do it for a bit. However, the best part of my life is being the husband to a wonderful wife and mother and the daddy to a bouncy, energetic little girl.

3 thoughts on “Revising History”

  1. Very good read, Chris. I, too, am concerned about society’s willingness to leave out those parts of our history that make us uncomfortable. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Nice!! Glad to see you’ve finally got your blog up and running. I’ll be looking forward to all your posts!
    Have you read “The Life of Andrew Jackson” by Robert V. Remini? I loved it…Remini gave me another perspective to banter about when I opine on The War of Northern Aggression.
    Keep writing!!!

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