In Diane F. Britton’s “Public History and Public Memory,” Britton confronts the topic is knowledge power or is ignorance bliss? Britton believes that what the American public perceive to be “true” history might not be correct. Could it be that from a young age we are told legends to instill pride in our nation? Could it be that everything learned in our formative school years about this great nation is nothing other than legends?
When Britton tells of Warren G. Harding’s account of being confronted by the fact that the infamous Paul Revere never made the ride, Harding was unfazed and simply stated his love of that story. With our history books full of heroic tales of bravery and gallantry, it seems easier for the American public to shirk away from the truth and believe these tales instead. It may seem that as a society it is easier to believe in a country where these acts of bravery are what have led to this nation to reach greatness (Britton14).
Often we overlook the good and bad of our American history. When Britton makes the statement “beyond heroism, Americans value bravery and thus often choose to interpret military struggles in terms of victory and gallantry instead of looking at the victims”(Britton14). This statement is so incredibly true. Often we glorify the act of war, as if all the wrongs in the world had been put to right. War is never that black and white.
We need to be able to examine all aspects of history, through the good and the bad. Just as no human being is perfect, a nation, which is made from people, cannot be perfect. As we make history each day of our lives, we need to make this present life great. If as a public we can learn to embrace and learn from our past mistakes, we could soar. Every day of our lives history impacts our lives; we just need to embrace this and make the future a truly great history.