A bit of nostalgia, a bit of realism

By Judith Roberts

Nostalgia is a heady thing.

Nostalgia makes you remember the good, forget the bad — or at least not remember it so poignantly. Remember going to theme parks as a kid? Disney World? Six Flags? Magic Springs? Remember the fun, the exhilaration of that first roller coaster ride, seeing Mickey Mouse in real life (before IRL was a thing), eating funnel cakes? Nostalgia helps forget the hour-long wait followed by just a 30-second ride and the price tag associated with all that fun.

Nostalgia can be a good thing, but it can also cloud memories and reality. We celebrated the Fourth of July yesterday with BBQ, water slides and pools, and fireworks. None of that is bad. But there was a cost associated with our freedom.

The American Revolution turned the world on its head. I cannot fathom what it was like living in the years prior to the war — spies infiltrating the British government, colonists living in fear daily, news spreading so slowly without modern technology. Houses burned, families at war, people literally tarred and feathered. 

And then, of course, we have afterwards, when the new government was shakily formed, when new ideas were offered and accepted and confirmed. The experiment of a democracy, far away from comfortability or accessibility — across the sea from Europe, fathoming a new purpose and direction. 

We don’t have the memories of the Revolution, but we know the history. We see it dramatized in series like AMC’s “Turn” and the quotable “Hamilton.” We see it played out in shows, on stage, and in books — it can give it a nostalgic feel. But for the individuals living at that time, it was reality. It was day to day, constant, unceasing. It was war.

Philosophers and statesmen are oft heard saying some form of the old adage, “History repeats itself.” I hope, in this case, it does not. Here’s hoping the nostalgia brings us joy to recognize our independence and democracy and that realism reminds us the price of our freedom was quite steep indeed.

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