What’s Your Place in History: Witness or Student?

by Jennifer Miller on November 22, 2013

in Food for Thought Friday

history quote_Edmund Burke


Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I was an infant when it happened, so of course I have no recollection of how this pivotal point in history felt to those who were witness to it as adults. Naomi Bloom, a fellow human resources blogger, was an 18 year old college student on November 22, 1963. Naomi submitted the post Where Were You – 11-22-1963 for inclusion in this week’s HR Carnival.

As I read Naomi’s post, I was struck by the fact that we were both alive during this time, and in that way, we were both “present”. But only one of us actually remembers it – the shock, the confusion, the grief. You could say that Naomi was an actual witness to the event, but I was merely a student, learning about it in history class and reading accounts of that terrible day in Life magazine.

So, my Friday “food for thought” is this: is it enough to “know” history (the student) so that you won’t repeat it, as Irish philosopher Edmund Burke asserts, or must you have a significant emotional connection to the event (the witness) in order for it to inform the choices you make?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jennifer Miller December 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm


Thank you so much for your contribution. It’s gratifying to know that my post on an American historical event can still be useful for other cultures. My best to you!

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