Putting the Story in History

blogpic_gabrielleWhat is it about human nature that lets us enjoy stories–whether we’re telling or listening to them?

It takes some skill and practice to craft and convey a narrative in a compelling way, one which lures the audience into the plot and setting, which allows them to visualize the main characters—and that is exactly what I love to do with the stories of the members of our senior communities.

Most recently I’ve been hearing from a lot of veterans, from bomber crews and fighter pilots who flew during WWII to Photo Lab Commanders who gathered intelligence about the enemy. I’ve been learning about their experiences as they consider the significance of Memorial Day coming up.

I will tell you that this has been extremely educational and meaningful to me, because hearing from these veterans has reminded me of the true significance of Memorial Day. It is much more than a celebratory day off from work or school or a holiday associated with sales at various stores and outlets, which is what American culture has done to the day.

This somber occasion is actually about paying tribute to the men and women who gave their lives serving our nation. No one will ever understand that better than the veterans who are paying tribute to their lost friends and comrades.

Growing up, history was among my least favorite subjects, but being able to hear about actual battles and events in our history firsthand—and then tell the soldiers’ or pilots’ personal stories myself—well, it puts the past in a completely different perspective.

Instead of reading an impersonal textbook, I’ve been able to see original photos of some of the men who fought for our nation, shake the hands of veterans who earned awards and medals for their service and tear up with them as they reflect on how grateful they were to make it home alive from the destruction of war.

I get to feel the raw emotions with them as they recall those memories and then write about them to share with their community, and I’m honored.

I get to share amazing personal stories from important events in history, and it’s not only changed the way I look at history in general, but at story-telling as well. Rudyard Kipling once said, “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”

With that sentiment in mind, I consider it my responsibility to do my best to make sure that valuable pieces of our history are preserved through the stories of the community residents we serve.

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