As I perused the news this morning, once again the vigilante lemmings have lifted up their torches to threaten and bash yet another victim: The National Archives. My disgust led me to refresh my understanding of the purpose of the national agency created in 1934.
As early as 1790, America’s founders recognized the need to preserve their new country’s history. Some early states, like Massachusetts establish a historical society early on, but a national effort remained at a standstill. Due to numerous fires into the early twentieth century, much historical documentation was lost.
Allan Weinstein, former national archivist director said, “archivists are the designated custodians of America’s national memory.” They preserve items as proof events occurred and document how things happened. Among such items stored are acts of Congress, presidential directives, federal regulations, and items of national security. The agency is also charged with providing public access to its holdings. For example, at its museum in Washington, one can view the original Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the US Constitution. (Yes, you can verify John Hancock did sign.) Through social media, you can browse the extensive collections. I accessed a photograph of the public hanging of four co-conspirators in Lincoln’s assassination for a book I was writing. Military and genealogical records are also accessible, as well as copies of congressional acts,etc. Additionally, the Archives administers fifteen presidential libraries and museums, and fifteen research facilities across the country.
Most every American is familiar with the quote: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (Santayana) Imagine a country, who has another Alex Jones’ clone, screaming to the masses John Hancock didn’t sign anything. He was a paid Hollywood actor! Or Christa McAuliffe is still teaching at Concord High School.
At my age, I can’t remember where I left my glasses, what I had for dinner last night, or when my next hair appointment is. It’s even trickier when I attempt to recall my one of my numerous passwords. So, to destroy and dismantle the “guardians of our national memory,” because of one person is absurd.