That's my dad on the potato wagon, third from the left. It's hard for me to imagine that as my sons give me some incredible new technology every Christmas, my dad actually farmed with horses just 75 years ago. We are living in a time I'm sure history will reflect as a renaissance. I like history. I even considered being a history teacher for a brief time. I studied a great deal of architectural and world history in college. Whenever I have time, I love to watch history shows, documentaries, and historical movies. Now that I have more time on travel days I read. I read history and biographies of accomplished people. Many of these include US presidents. Reading more, combined with the great deal I'm learning on our travels, I feel like I'm getting the education of my life. I just wish I could have done this when I was 20. One of my favorite quotes on history is, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Job 8:8 said it this way, "Ask the former generation and find out what their ancestors learned." Deuteronomy 32:7 says "Remember the days of old, consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders and they will explain it to you."
I just read a biography of Alexander Hamilton. He was an illegitimate orphan from the tropics, yet we owe more to him than most Americans realize. He was our first Secretary of the Treasury, He established our monetary system, our central bank, the U.S. Mint, our customs system, and the Coast Guard. He proposed our Army and Navy military academies. His persuasive Federalist Papers helped States ratify our constitution. George Washington may have been our first President, but he was happy to allow Hamilton to be the chief administrator or our new country. He established the New York Post. He was an abolitionist, and a friend of Jews when it was not in vogue with his peers. Like many accomplished people, he was both greatly loved, and extremely hated. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, and James Monroe all came to detest him, and his heavy handed leadership. George Washington loved him, in fact the last letter Washington wrote a few days before his death was to Hamilton. Hamilton had many fine qualities. He was a self-taught, hardworking leader, affable, a great speaker, and writer. Probably due to his questionable beginnings, he defended his honor at great lengths. Considering his honor was so important to him, it's surprising he said things so offensive to others honor. He could be very insensitive, unsympathetic, uncompromising, and unforgiving. Ultimately, he was killed in a duel as a result of his insults to Aaron Burr. Hamilton should have learned from history because his eldest son died in a duel just 3 years earlier. What have I learned from history? There has never been a perfect person aside from Jesus Christ. Every biography I've read showed the human side of our heroes; their fears, their weaknesses, their character flaws. I sure wish I had learned a lot of lessons from books when I was 20 instead of learning through painful experiences over the next 35 years. If I had I would have.... ....never have spoken in anger. ....written that angry letter, then put it in the drawer instead of send it. ....compromised more. ....been willing to be wrong once in a while (even if I wasn't). ....been quick to offer forgiveness, even if it's not requested (or deserved). ....been thankful in all circumstances. ....been positive and optimistic at all times. ....lived very day like it was my last. In the words from one of my favorite songs, I would have "lived like I was dying". What lesson have you learned? Learn from history, don't repeat the mistakes of your past.