Day 2: When History Gets Awkward

Its day two here in Dublin, and the majority of our day consisted of a historical based walking tour with Sylvie Kleinman.  In today’s world, most people have a lot of love and passion about their country of origin.  This was definitely true for Sylvie, who loved talking about Irish history and how the country came into what it is today.  We learned about the 1916 uprising of the Irish people, the meaning behind the golden harp (a famous Irish symbol), and even learned about the vikings that once settled in Dublin.  However, there were some topics that clearly unnerved Sylvie, and there were some things about Irish history that she refused talking about altogether.  She told us that there are parts of Irish history that many citizens wish they could forget.  This made me reflect on our history as Americans.  Like Sylvie is proud to be from about Ireland, I’m also proud to be born in the U.S.A., but that doesn’t mean I’m proud of every single moment in our nation’s history. This made me reflect on our history as Americans, and some of the things that may be uncomfortable to look back on.

Specifically, if I was giving a walking tour about our country’s history, I’m not sure if I would want to address how slavery was once the norm.  It’s very sad and uncomfortable to think that our founding fathers, arguably the most important men in our nation’s history, were slaveowners.  Slavery is rooted deeply in our history as Americans, and we have struggled as a country to overcome the racism that has stemmed from it.  No matter what angle you take, its just a terrible thing.  In the event that somebody didn’t know about this astonishing time,  I honestly don’t know how I would go about telling someone about slavery.  So I can relate to Sylvie in this instance, and wonder how anyone can explain some of the unjustifiable things of their country’s past.  I still believe its important to learn from these mistakes, so even though it may be tough to explain, thats still better than just forgetting it happened.  The only good thing about mistakes is that you can learn from them, and that what we (Irish, Americans, and the like) should do about our checkered pasts.

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