By Daniel Hubbard | August 17, 2014
Last year at this time, I wondered when my “tradition” of starting my blogiversary post with a short real post and then a few thoughts on my favorite posts from the past year would become an official tradition. Well, I think at year five of this blog, I need to admit that it is a tradition and the quotation marks need to come off. So here is to tradition!
Once I’m a Distant Ancestor
When we research our family history, we generally want to put meat on as many bones as possible. We want stories and connections to history. What about our descendants? What meat will they put on our bones?
Last week my family and I went to a presentation about the Berlin Wall. It was on the anniversary of the Wall’s construction and in preparation for the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall coming up in November. In 1989 when protests and revolution swept through Eastern Europe, I was living in France and working in Switzerland. It was a fascinating and exciting time with some worry to be sure but also lots of optimism. When I saw the first images of people celebrating on top of the Wall, a place that previously would have meant their instant death just trying to get to it, that image became etched into my mind. I want that to be some of the historical meat that my descendant put on my bones. So often those images that we remember so clearly are not so joyful.
The next summer when East Germany still officially existed and the Wall still stood in many places, a few of us drove all night to get to Berlin and see Roger Waters perform The Wall at the Wall. The drive was bizarre with one lane of the old southern access road leading to Berlin filled with slow moving, haze-belching East German Trabants and the other lane effectively reserved for West German Porsches and Mercedes. Anyone like us who had a car that couldn’t do 200 kilometers/hour and who didn’t want to travel at 40 kph either, had to zig-zag back and forth continuously.
When we went to the concert it was apparent that someone had tried to put up barricades to channel the crowd. In 1990, Berliners were done with walls and barricades. We saw those barricades knocked over into the street. We saw them stacked in heaps. We saw them heaved into dumpsters. We didn’t see them in place and it all seemed very appropriate. It really couldn’t have been any other way. Counts vary but something around 300,000 people attended that show in what had been the no-man’s-land near Potsdamer Platz eight months earlier. It is the one time in my life that I was where it was clearly cooler to be than anywhere else on Earth. I want that meat placed on the factual bones of my existence as well.
It is something to think about. What stories and connections to history do we want attached to us in the future? When we discover things about our ancestors they are probably just a sample, whatever happened to have been somewhat randomly preserved. If we showed what we know to them, what would they want to add? What would we want to add a century from now if we had the chance? What do we want to make sure is remembered?
My annual blogiversary ought to start with something get the party mood going. Nothing in the last year got my party mood going like speaking for 200+ people at the FGS conference in Fort Wayne last year. I still can’t believe that happened at my first national conference. I’m still shaking my head at the list of other presenters on those signs.
Parties need guests and guests have identities.
Parties are often because of particular occasions. Even if it is the wrong time of year, I had more fun writing A Genealogist’s Halloween than any other post this past year. Parties also need a place to be held. A memory palace would seem to be the right place, of course you need to know where you are to find it.
That’s all for this time. Thanks so much for coming to the party!Twitter It!