[April 26, 2019] What we do as humans, echoes throughout time. While I was a new Lieutenant in the U.S. Army at Fort Benning, Georgia, we learned about the Mi Lai Massacre in Vietnam. The massacre was a stain on our military reputation and the reason why we studied it so closely. Leadership means keeping alive our historical memories.
Historically significant memories are important, like all those major lessons learned in life. But historical memories are crucial as they makeup who we are as a culture and answer important questions, like why we exist.
A few days ago, U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged the murder of 1.5 million Christian Armenians the Ottoman Empire, beginning in April 1915. Keeping alive this the memory of so many killed and the failure of the modern Islamic Turkish government to acknowledge the atrocity, is an on-going issue that pits decendents against one another.
Too many peoples would rather forget about these events; both good and bad. Those memories should always be used to better ourselves, to learn political and social lessons, to discover who we are as a people, and to preserve peaceful coexistence.
To use those memories for evil purposes will only show the defects in national leadership. Like so many, I’ve visited the battlefields of World War I, II, the Korean War, and the U.S. Civil War. Yes, I learn “why” certain generals made decisions either this way or not. But more important is “what” we can do to avoid the mistakes of the past.
“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts,” – Edward R. Murrow, American broadcast journalist
Leadership is not easy. It means learning lessons of the past and how to apply them to today. One must look to the future with a vision but also look into the past for historical memories that guide us.
We cannot escape history but we can acknowledge it. The path that we take in our lives will be looked upon by future generations and they will rightly judge us as honorable or dishonorable.