What is Juneteenth? What did Thomas Jefferson and George Washington do–I mean what did they do other than being a proper founding father? Now suddenly there come new terms to be learned from the news, new facts about famous figures to be revealed to ignorant people like me. History seems no longer a boring dogmatic subject. Remember those bad old days when a history exam was on the horizon and one had to cram the dates and names into one’s memory?
Judging from the recent events, I conclude that history is like beauty, which exists in the views of the beholders. Our school only teaches it from the views of one beholder, usually a very boring beholder nobody cares to listen to except for the purpose of passing a mandatory exam.
Immigrants like me who came here after high school or college haven’t studied Thomas Jefferson or George Washington in school, but rather we pick up things here and there, in movies, books etc. If Gore Vidal has written about these two leading figures, I would have read about them. He didn’t. Instead he wrote about Aaron Burr, who is knowledgeable, interesting, but unfortunately often unscrupulous in his own emotional life.
I used to live near Valley Forge, where me and my friends visited from time to time. That’s the first time I get to know George Washington and his campaign. His army was consisted of people from all walks of life, many immigrants, most never firing a weapon before, some even having wife and children with them. I was really amazed at George Washington’s ability to command such an army. If he imposed rules like a real military commander, his soldiers may not want to take it. I wonder how he did what he did. I have my guess here, but I don’t want to reveal it here since I’m going to reveal it in something I am writing right now.
In New Jersey, it is said George Washington used to station at the township of Cranbury, where my friend and I used to visit every summer. It is said he fought a winning battle in Princeton, where there’s historical reenactment to celebrate this achievement each year.
How about instead of pulling down the statues of famous figures, people build a commemorative stone to describe the controversy, to honor different views from various beholders, to force people to think and to decide for themselves?