Remember . . . the importance of story.

Remember . . .

Stories often begin with “Remember when . . .” Events are marked by “Remember this . . .”

We are told stories from infancy some are real, some are fairytales. We are told stories by our parents, our grandparents, our siblings and our friends.

Sharing stories is nothing new. The human race has been telling stories for millennium. The first stories paintings on cave walls, the first graphic novels really, saying “Remember us.” Ancient kings and scribes left records of great deeds and powerful events, saying “Remember us.” Biblical prophets said, “Remember.” Jesus said, “Remember.” Paul said, “Remember.”

Why is it important that we remember and continue to retell the stories?

Perhaps it is what binds us together in community. The stories we share. The common history we commemorate. They define us as a people. They tell us who we are. They pass down our culture and our values to the next generation. We demonstrate who we are by the stories we choose to remember.

Remember the day President Kennedy died?

Remember when the towers fell?

Remember when the Angels won the World Series?

But sometimes it’s important to reflect on the stories that get forgotten, pushed aside or just ignored. That says something about what we valued at that time and how much things have changed.

Who remembers Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr. (March 4, 1877 – July 27, 1963)? He was an African-American inventor. He patented the safety hood, the prototype for the respirator firefighters wear today, and the traffic light, which has prevented countless accidents.

Garrett Morgan

Who remembers Rosalind Elsie Franklin (25 July 1920 – 16 April 1958)? She was Jewish-English chemist and x-ray crystallographer. Her photo, shown to Crick and Watson, without her knowledge, was the key to unlocking the molecular structure of DNA.

Rosalind Franklin

Who remembers Margaret Heafield Hamilton (born August 17, 1936)? She was the computer scientist who wrote, by hand, the code used by NASA to land a man on the moon.

Margaret Hamilton

Within our families, we do the same story telling. It gives us our history as an individual; it binds us into a family.

Remember your great-grandfather crossed the prairie in a covered wagon.

Remember when we went to the Grand Canyon?

Remember when your little brother was born?

But even families have stories that get swept under the rug. Things we’d rather have forgotten. Things we are ashamed of. Things that hurt too much to remember.

Who remembers the cousin that got pregnant and had to “go away” to visit a distant aunt?

Who remembers the sister, who died of a drug overdose?

Who remembers the great-great-grandfather who was hung as a horse thief? (Okay, if you’re writing a family history, this little bit of scandal might be interesting.)

And perhaps this is why I write, to tell the stories that need to be told. Even though novels are fiction, they tell the story of what people valued. Who did they think were heroic? Who did they think were villainous? Stories can change minds.

Would the Civil War have happened in 1861, if Uncle Tom’s Cabin hadn’t been written?

1853_UncleTomsCabin_Jewett

Would we have dared dream of landing on the moon, if From the Earth to the Moon hadn’t been written?

From_the_Earth_to_the_Moon_Jules_Verne

Would our food supply be safer, if The Jungle hadn’t been written?

TheJungleSinclair

Stories are also where we learn. We learn new vocabulary and facts. We learn empathy and problem-solving. We experience new things and emotions. All of this from the safety of our favorite chair.

Remember to share your stories – real or imagined. They are important. They are powerful. They are you!

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