Ah, yes, the presence of the past.
A big topic, actually.
Take July 4, 1776: nowadays, the room in the old State House in Philadelphia where 240 years ago publicly elected delegates from 13 British colonies agreed to declare themselves as a united and independent nation, officially separating from Great Britain sits empty except for stand-in furniture and the click, flash and whir of camera phones.
But the United States of America, from its armies around the world to home-renters in Modesto and all the rest of us are the living breathing evidence of what went down in that room. The past is, in that sense, quite present.
Another example is the experiment in how many of my kids’ ancestors were here in America that summer of 1776. Turns out 142 people were on these shores then from whom my kids descend! 18 fought or participated in the American Revolution.
Six from their mom’s side; her dad’s from Louisville, Kentucky and all his predecessors (typical of Kentuckians) that were here in 1776 were in Virginia (seen to the right).
Twelve of the 18 patriots were on my side, clustered in Massachussetts and Pennsylvania (below). And some who served from Pennsylvania were within that large set of deeply religious folks that most people use the catch-all “Amish” or “Mennonite” to describe, and thus were pacificsts. Some paid fines to the colonial and then brand-spankin’ new state (and I think federal) government for not taking up arms; others helped insteads by contributing blankets, clothing &/or care for the Continental Army, for instance, at Valley Forge.
Speaking of Valley Forge…a father-son pair of my ancestors were stationed there together that infamously harsh winter of 1777. The son died, the father made it through the winter and fought on under General Washington’s command. And yet another ancestor who served from New Hampshire was a fifer in a company that included Asael Smith. My ancestor’s grandaughter moved west and started a family which helped settle southwestern Wisconsin. Smith’s grandson also moved west, but started not just a family, but the Mormon Religion!
And these photos…rooted firmly in actual 35 mm film exposed by yours truly in the late summer of 1988!