17 Jan 2013

Were You There?

photo curtesy of US National Archives

photo courtesy of US National Archives

Few of us are conscious of living in history. History, rather, is something that happens in the past and is the realm of those that went before us. We read about it, watch it on TV, visit the sites, but it is, to abuse the old saying, a foreign country. Even when we witness something that we know is historic, such as 9/11 or the assassination of President Kennedy, it’s often difficult to think of our perspectives as “historic.”

And yet, historians crave this information. Facts are easy, they are generally well recorded by government documents and papers of record. Flavor is hard. Getting a sense of what an event was like, how did the participants feel when they witnessed it, what do they remember about it; these are all priceless tidbits to future historians attempting to interpret events from generations that have moved on.

Which makes the Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol History Project so valuable. We have so much history living amongst us, and the Overbeck History project has done, and is doing, an excellent job of documenting that.

Now the project is taking a new, and fascinating, turn with a focus on the March on Washington. One of the most pivotal events of the 20th Century in Washington, the March has received a new focus in the last year with the opening of the Martin Luther King Memorial. Teaming up with Capitol Hill Village, the Overbeck history project is determined to collect and share first hand accounts of the event.

So if you were there, please contact the Overbeck project through their website and share your experience. What’s more, if you know a friend or neighbor who has something to share, particularly if they are not, shall we say, on the internet as often as some of us, reach out to them and encourage them to share their recollections.

Make sure you put February 23rd on your calendars. The Overbeck History Project and Capitol Hill Village will be cosponsoring a commemoration of the March at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation at 2nd and East Capitol, featuring several of the oral histories collected in this project.

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