I received an email today that contains a collection of “historical photographs”. I want to put the record straight – those are not historical photographs, they are photographs from my childhood and I do not yet belong to any historical period. Some of those historical photographs are of people I admired (or hated) and some of the photographs were actually posters that were stuck on the wall of my bedroom. They were part of our daily lives, the leaders of our world and many of their names are still well known.
Many of the photographs are from World War II, the war that raged across Europe and the Far East when we were growing up and crowding around the huge radio in the living room, straining over the static to hear who was winning. The great generals Montgomery, Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley were our heroes and members of the Nazi brass were the bad guys. How we whooped when Churchill or Roosevelt came over the air!
There are a bunch of pictures from the Kennedy assassination showing the president, his wife and son. That terrible day is not yet 50 years old. And there’s the first moon landing, only 43 years old. These are events that we watched “live” and already they are the subject of historical photographs. We had few historical photographs when we were young; cameras were few and far between in the previous generation.
There are a few seniors here in the retirement home who have lived through history. One hundred years ago the date was 1912. Another world war erupted two years later and Sam on the fifth floor and Albert on the second were shipped to Europe. They have vivid memories of life in the trenches. Problem is, if you ask them about it, they tell you and it’s a long, long story… But that’s real history.