Why History?

David McCullough, on the value of learning history.

The Bully Pulpit

David McCullough

“History shows us how to behave. History teaches, reinforces what we believe in, what we stand for… History is — or should be — the bedrock of patriotism. Not the chest-pounding kind of patriotism, but the real thing: love of country.

At their core, the lessons of history are largely lessons in appreciation. Everything we have, all our great institutions, hospitals, universities, libraries, this city, our laws, our music, art, poetry, our freedoms, everything is because somebody went before us and did the hard work, provided the creative energy, provided the money, provided the belief. Do we disregard that?

Indifference to history isn’t just ignorant, it’s rude. It’s a form of ingratitude.

I’m convinced that history encourages, as nothing else does, a sense of proportion about life, and gives us a sense of the relative scale of our own time on earth and how valuable it is.

What history teaches it…

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