This upcoming Saturday, I have the pleasure of being one of the judges in the regional competition for the National History Day. It is an honor, and I am looking forward to seeing what the young people present. However, I am also dismayed. There are by far even fewer students competing this year than last.
What has been (I believe) a growing movement away from the importance of studying history seems to have taken some great strides in the wrong direction in the past few weeks. A couple of weeks ago, Governor McCrory released his proposed budget for 2013-2015. In that budget, he advocated the closing of five different historic sites in North Carolina, for a scant savings of just under $500,000, while announcing at the same time a budget surplus of $139 million.
Then, this past week, it was announced that a Confederate flag, hanging in the Old Capitol building in Raleigh, was being removed "after complaints from civil rights leaders." The display was part of a re-creation of flags that actually were hung in the Capitol during the War. I'm outraged that it was taken down to placate individuals who did not look at the whole picture of which that was one element - but then, no one really cares when I'm outraged. I regret that I did not make it over to Raleigh to see the display during its short life.
And then there is the History Day regional competition. It will not take as much time to judge this year. Why? Few than the usual number of participants. In fact, my son, Nathaniel, who is home schooled, is the only entry from Avery County. There look to be four participants from Mitchell County, none from Yancey, none from Madison. I don't see any from Burke, Buncombe, or Haywood either. It could be one of the private schools from the area has a student or two entered. Maybe it is just that the competition doesn't have the best publicity in this neck of the woods. We know of it primarily because my wife competed when she was a student.
And, to further compound my not-so-good attitude so far this week, I went on a research trip last night. The microfilm reader was broken (the only one in the App collection), so I had to just surf the shelves. I found a couple of interesting little bits of information, but it constantly amazes me how little has been written about the history of the area that I call home (western North Carolina).
So my thoughts? No wonder we are going to hell in a hand basket so quickly these days. No one has a clue where we came from. And most of them don't even realize that there is a clue to be had.