Reading is fun?
History shouldn't be a reading preference for someone with "future" in their signature strength array. In my case it's not so much about loving the past as wanting to be obedient to the biblical injunctions to teach the past to our children. Surely the lessons learned back there are worth remembering. Many faithful historians, biographers, and observers have recorded the signal events of our national epoch and entrusted them to us in great historical documents and works. Since seminary they have become my reading passion. Go figure!
Preparing to preach at Edisto Beach Baptist Church for Father's Day these verses keep flashing across the screen in my head---
It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the desert until you arrived at
Deuteronomy 11: 5, NIV
But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done.
Deuteronomy 11:7, NIV
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you
walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 11: 19, NIV
Summer school has been regular reading in the history of the United States of America since those seminary days. Of special interest over the years has been volumes about the American revolution and World War II. Last summer I read three biographies of Sir Winston Churchill, perhaps the most decisive leader of the Allied nations during that period 1939-1945. This reading was enhanced greatly by a study trip to the United Kingdom in 2014 and time in Churchill's underground London bunker and life habitat during the war. Being there in person made the reading about it more fun! Yes, fun.
This summer I am tackling Samuel Eliot Morrison's epic 15 Volume History of the United States Naval Operations in World War II (Little, Brown, and Company, 1970), roughly 6,000 pages. This set came to me from the kindness of Harriet's uncle William Crocker, a WWII veteran and naval buff, who passed several years ago and bequeathed the books to me. Morrison, who was Emeritus Professor of History at Harvard University before the war, was recognized as Honorary Rear Admiral in the United States Navy after the war. His work is considered the classic historical narrative of the naval contribution to our victories in WWII.
So, what's fun about reading the details of Atlantic and Pacific naval operations during the American war effort? Sure, reading is fundamental, so the advertisers tell us. But, can this kind of factual detail be fun? The answer for me is an affirmative, yes. There are a couple of personal reasons---
1. The naval service of our father, The Chester.
Yes, he graduated from Walhalla (SC) High School in 1944. When he reached age 17 our grandmother signed him into the United States Navy. After basic training at the Great Lakes he was assigned duty on the USS Wisconsin, BB 64, an Iowa class battleship. He was serving aboard the Wisconsin when the war ended in 1945. All of our lives we heard about his exploits, life with 2,000 officers and men and their preparations to invade the Japanese islands. Today the Wisconsin is birthed at Norfolk, Virginia as a Navy museum. Several years ago my brother Mike and brother-in-law David and I took The Chester to tour the Wisconsin. What a blessed day. Dad's ship is mentioned in Morrison's epic journal of Navy life in WWII. It was thrilling to picture our dad on many of those pages.
2. The mention of one favorite professor at The Citadel.
Many of us studied sophomore math at The Citadel under retired Navy Captain Amos T. Hathaway. One day I was thumbing through the Morrison set and read a few pages about the famous Pacific naval engagement at Leyte Gulf. In that fierce battle Commander Hathaway was in command of the USS Heerman (DD 532, a Fletcher class destroyer). He was awarded the Navy Cross and the Presidential Unit Citation after commanding the Heerman in the Battle Off Samar. The Heerman was the only surviving ship of that task force. It was many years after graduating from The Citadel that I discovered Hathaway's status as a WWII hero in one of the pivotal battles of the war in the Pacific. You can Google his name, Amos T. Hathaway and read many articles about his courageous service.
It's just my personal outlook, but I have always thought the hand of God guided our national leaders through the American Revolution and World War II. Something in me wants to know more about these periods so I can entrust these powerful truths to the generations that will follow us. Is that fun?
Yes, it is. Especially when the reading touches our personal lives like this. Hey, go to summer school yourself and do some reading for fun. You never know who you'll run into while doing it. And, you'll learn something you can pass along to your children and grandchildren.
Now, I've been able to confidently teach our daughter Liz that I was not actually alive in 1776.