The history of history

Atascosa County Historical Commission



This weekend will mark 20 years since our nation was attacked by terrorists. Twenty years and so much has changed. Adults today just don’t seem to understand the impact of Sept. 11, 2001. That feeling in your gut as an American once all the pieces of the puzzle were put together, was disheartening. My wife was pregnant with my son at the time and I just couldn’t imagine what type of world my son would be born to.

Fast forward 20 years and the unity from that day is gone. Not only gone, there seems to be no trace of it. I never want another Sept. 11, 2001, but the attitude of America on Sept. 12, 2001 was unbreakable! Not only the day after, but in the months to follow, America was proud and united.

Something has happened to us, and I cannot describe it. Have we forgotten our cornerstone and foundations? We seem to be divided and political beliefs seem to take precedence over our basic human values and self-respect. This is just an example, not an insult. Do you remember what your history book was like in school? I remember the chapter that covered World War II. The Holocaust had an entire chapter dedicated to its teaching. I looked at my kids’ history textbooks when they went to school. It wasn’t as extensive in relation to the Holocaust. Why would you have the desire to condense that portion of history? I understand there is always a reason for everything and maybe this is a bad example. If the Holocaust, the persecution and attempted genocide of the European Jewish population 80 years ago gets deemed not important, what’s next and where is the line?

My point: History has been labeled as boring and not interesting by people that don’t have a passion for it. History is no longer just told; it gets used as a tool for a narrative. It is not a tool, it is our past and going into the future, our lack of knowledge will be our doom. Even Texas History was recently attacked by a few men that didn’t have very good book sales, so they printed a Texas History book with the mentality of “bad publicity is still publicity.” My despondency is that it will be taken as a bona fide history by a few uneducated readers.

Even at the local level, history has taken a back seat. Every history event we host has low turnout except for vested and interested parties. We have announced that a national press is going to publish a pictorial history of our county. We collected photo scans at two of the oft-forgotten towns of Lytle and Charlotte. We even collected photo scans in Pleasanton. We want to give everyone the opportunity to have their family history published nationwide. In the three towns, we have had five people share their photos — five people with a combined population of 14,775 within the three towns. I’m not a mathematician but the percentage is not good.

I’ll close with a plea to know your history. I know the future is bright, but remember, the trail we are on wasn’t magically placed there; somebody put it there for us long ago.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s column. Thank you for reading, until next time.

MARTIN GONZALES is the Atascosa County Historical Commission Chair. If you have history of Atascosa County that you’d like to share, you may contact him at 830-480-2741.

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