Context of Prior History
HIST 415N: Vietnam & 20th Century Experience
Professor Gary Grimm
It is both necessary and helpful to study the context of prior history because ignorance of history deprives us from the knowledge or understanding that we need in order to deal with encounters with others such as religious or political groups, another nation, culture or civilization. Without knowledge of the past, we cannot expect to see results or make progress in various situations because we will not be able to foresee how others may react to decisions or actions of others. “Students’ ability to think chronologically, comprehend the past, and analyze historical evidence enables them to pose their own historical questions.” (Brugar, 2012)
The way things are now is because of the way that things were yesterday, last week, last year or in decades past. The country is what it is today because of the past. For one to understand why this country is where it is in the present, we need to understand the past. We need to understand why we have been involved in past wars, what precipitated those wars, why were we involved or what our interest was in the war and how we suffered or benefited from them. All of this background shapes and somewhat defines how we handle current or future conflicts or wars.
It is also important to study history because historians are always reinterpreting the past and asking new questions. They are looking for new sources of information to gain more insight to the past and our understanding of the past. When we are constantly reviewing and reinterpreting the past, it essentially means that the past is always changing. “The institutions and ideas, therefore, that provide for freedom and improvement in the material conditions of life cannot take root and flourish without an understanding of how they came about and what challenges they have had to surmount.” (Kagan, 2014).