10 September 2012

Current Family History

Is there such a thing as "current history"? I think there is. With nightfall, each day passes into history, History does not have to be in the distant past. In fact, when it comes to remembering and writing and having the resources to record history, sooner is better.

That's why, as my family "family history writer," I was excited to find a newspaper article that mentioned some activities of my nephew Bert. Bert is serving an LDS mission in Louisiana and if you have been keeping up with the news last month, you know that parts of that state were badly damaged by the Hurricane named Isaac. The news article I read spoke of Bert's evacuation during the 80 mph winds and then his subsequent return to water-soaked LaPlace.

Frank Johnson 1904
Newspapers are a time-honored family history source for stories as well as genealogical facts. As we know, often a news article can give specific "word pictures" that catch the imagination and put the reader "on the spot." There is a very sad picture in my mind of my great-great uncle throwing burning kerosene out his door just as my great-great aunt and her little son came up the walk. When I came across an old baby photo labeled "Olive's baby Frank," it wasn't just a miscellaneous baby picture. I had to stop and look into those little eyes and picture his accidental death by fire once again. That brain video came from an old news article that has never left my heart. Though everyone involved has been dead many years, I still have some heartache over the sad situation.

In the same way, the story of Bert and his companion wading through knee to waist deep water to help out residents of the town sticks with me too. Bert is quoted as feeling humbled by seeing the people's courage. I feel humbled too, by Bert's service. I took the opportunity to distribute his story to family members. I think maybe his courage and willing heart in the face of natural disaster will help me and others to face our own "disasters" with courage rather than "dis-courage" and with hearts that are turned to each other and to God.

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