Significant places from our past are often valued as being reminders of the good ol’ days, nostalgia, sentimental and heart warming. They are places where we once lived, where we once learned, or even where we had our first kiss. Whatever the occasion, what may seem to be an ordinary place for one person, could actually be a treasury of memories for another.
As a student at Texas A&M University, the schools long standing traditions, and historic buildings connect one to the past. Giving tours of Campus, I have former students come up to me all the time asking if a dorm hall is still around, or if their college building is still standing. Recently, several dorms on campus have been demolished in the name of progress. Unfortunately, if any former student were to ask about these dorms, I would have to tell them the bad news. More than likely, they may give out a sigh of disappointment and move on with their lives, but what about sites that affect an entire nation. Some place that is not only personal for one, but a place that had a significant affect on the lives of millions to follow.
Right now in America, our national heritage and history is under threat. We are losing the places that connect us to our past, and that have ultimately shaped our future. The National Trust for Historic places has recently listed the top 11 most endangered historic places. Places that include Fort Gaines which played a pivotal role in the Civil War battle of Mobile Bay, or China Alley in California where Chinese immigrants settled in the late 1800’s.
Places we have already lost are numerous. The former home of John Hancock, the first to sign the Declaration of Independence, is only marked now with a plaque, the place where Walt Disney changed movie-making history is merely a parking lot, and Ebbet’s Field, where Jackie Robinson broke the racial barrier for baseball is now an intersection.
As our future is being shaped with innovative designs, progress, growth and so on, will the past continue to be buried beneath the asphalt and concrete of modern day? Is it important to save places that “tell the story of America?” or will we as a society just sigh and move on.
Some may argue that America is young, that our country is hardly “historic” when compared to places like Europe or Asia. But unlike early Europe or Asia, which today is being sought after by archaeologist and researchers, we have the know how and we should have the wisdom to save places we feel will be great reminders of the past for future generations to come. Will our latest convenient store that was built over an historic cemetery be important 50 years from now? Will it be important a 100 year’s from now? Let us keep the things that are significant, that are historic, that will last. After all, when these historic places are gone, so too is our past and heritage.