Wednesday I told you I’m writing a vignette about my high school friend, Cindy, and her example of resisting peer pressure with dignity and grace.
Now, this is going to sound nerdy but I’ll just blurt it out: I’m surprised at how much fun I’ve had researching the story’s historical connections.
A few days ago, my hometown newspaper ran a story commemorating the fifty-year anniversary of a plane crash that happened at the end of my story—a tragedy I witnessed and one which also caught the nation’s attention. I was an eyewitness to history.
I’m also having loads of fun researching another part of my story: our neighborhood’s legendary rock ’n’ roll scene and the national attention focused on it. I was an eyewitness to history.
Has it ever occurred to you that you are an eyewitness to history?
In their blog post, Your Memoir is History, Nancy and Biff Barnes say, “Maybe you don’t think of yourself as a part of the sweep of history. Think again.”
If you’re near my age, you’ve witnessed Sputnik, air raid drills, the Civil Rights Movement, the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK’s death, Rev. Martin Luther King’s assassination, the Vietnam War, mankind’s first walk on the moon, the construction—and destruction—of the Berlin Wall, Mt. St. Helens’ eruption, and 9-ll.
You and I have observed history-in-the-making, sometimes as bystanders and other times as the movers and shakers.
When we include our stories’ historical settings, we anchor them in time and place. Our stories can make history come alive—they can make history personal—for our readers.
All around us, history touches our lives. The history surrounding your parents shaped them, and the history you witnessed shaped you. All of it shaped and shapes your family, your values, choices, finances, attitude, expectations, assumptions, and probably your career.
Here are a few resources for you:
In Ian Kath’s blog post, Five Historical Timelines of Your Lifestory, you’ll find helpful links to several historical timelines: fashion, music, world disasters, World War II, agricultural history, and national histories of Australia, the UK, USA, New Zealand, and South Africa.
In their blog post, Your Memoir is History, Nancy and Biff Barnes include links to The Smithsonian Institution’s American History Timeline and Digital History.
I Remember JFK’s website also has rich historical resources for Baby Boomers. Browse around the site and you’ll find lots of interesting stuff that will make you smile, including photos.
When we include historical settings, we place ourselves into a bigger story, a story that includes our city, our nation, ethnic culture, gender, an industry, or our religion.
Our stories’ historical contexts add depth, texture, and meaning to stories.
And all of it adds enjoyment for our readers.