by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As Appearing in the Daily Sentinel
Both of my parents have taken time to write their childhood memories in the form of books they can pass along to future generations. As we get older, we tend to become more interested in family history, so genealogy is more popular than ever. Ancestry.com generates over $1 billion a year in revenue.
“Roots” author Alex Haley once said, “In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage — to know who we are and where we came from.” Family stories and childhood memories are more than just a desire to know about the past. They teach us what we know, and make us who we are. A friend of mine now working on such a book says memories are the building blocks of character.
That is as true for a community as it is for individuals. As my friend says, we inherit from our parents and other ancestors more than our hair color. We also learn from them our values, understanding of right and wrong, sense of humor, work ethic, religion, ideas of duty and fairness, and so much more. Just so, our communities inherit values and character from earlier generations. A community that loses its memory risks losing its character, as well. This is why learning our history, and passing it along, is so vital.