There are many historians out there and they seem to get a lot of respect. They are asked about particular events or circumstances and often asked their take about what happened and when and why and how.

But they weren’t there. They have no direct knowledge of the event or circumstance. They’ve studied and are able to explain or perhaps recite what happened and why.

In fact, many historians lack relevant experiences in the subject area upon which they are expressing an opinion. I worry that many people seem to give these historians more credibility than they deserve and in the process discount the perspective of those who experienced some of these historical events.

Consider a younger historian talking about the Vietnam War and the 60s and 70s. Recent demonstrations on college campuses across the country have made this a hot topic yet these younger historians seem to talk authoritatively about the times and what occurred as if they had direct knowledge. But they weren’t there; weren’t old enough to have experienced the time and events they are talking about.

When those of us who did experience the Vietnam War, the protests, demonstrations and all that went with it engage in these discussions, we’re often ignored. Our culture focuses on experts versus experience, and I think that is a great disservice to us all.

I believe we all need to recognize history majors and historians as the resource they are and not elevate them to be an authority.

If we all listened more to the folks that have actually lived the history – we can learn from each other and ultimately make better decisions.

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Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis
Foundation for Health and Policy

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Highland, Maryland 20777

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