History is the focal point of every society in the world. The history of a nation gives insights into the current structures in society and government. Historical events have also profoundly affected people's lives. It is difficult to separate the relationship between people's ideologies and the events experienced in their lifetime. Hence, historical events have hugely impacted the lives of people especially their beliefs, career choices, and way of life (Nash et al. 2000). Therefore, to portray how history impacts individuals, this paper provides the stories of three individuals. I decided to interview my maternal grandparents and father. I chose my maternal grandparents because they experienced events from the 1930s which speak volumes about American history. On the other hand, I chose my father because his generation viewed events differently. The purpose of this project is to show how historical events impacted the lives of these individuals during their times. It aims to describe how people from different generations can view events from different points of view. Overall the paper should show how history impacts individuals directly.
My maternal grandmother was born in 1919 in Co. Cork, Ireland. When she was 12 years of age, she immigrated to the United States. It was a tedious journey that took long since they traveled from Ellis Island to gain entry into the U.S. The hardest hardship was when they first got off the boat but with time she adapted to her new environment. During the reign of Hitler, my grandmother became a prisoner in Auschwitz #2 Birkenau. She had traveled into Eastern Europe to rescue her family since Hitler was persecuting gypsies and Jews. However, when having Shabbat dinner with her family, my grandmother was arrested with her family (Radden, 2018). They were sent to a concentration camp where she spent four dreadful years. She experienced the Holocaust first hand. The Holocaust took place during Hitler's reign. He had the vision to create a vast living space by the elimination of Jews (Haas, 2008). During her imprisonment, my grandmother fought off typhus, pneumonia and other diseases caused by the filth in the prisons. These experiences gave her the strength to overcome challenges later on in life. The most profound evolution she witnessed was watching the 911 incident on TV. It shook her emotions as she sympathized with the victims and their families. When I asked her about how she feels about technology, my grandmother said that the evolution was necessary. She pointed out that it was important to evolve from technology such as having typewriters to personal computers. The change would make life easier for everyone.
My maternal grandfather was born in Iowa. He is a child of German immigrants. My grandfather did not experience the troubles of the great depression first hand because he lived on a farm. However, he joined the army when he was 15 years and got to experience the horrible events of Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor which was a strike by Japanese Navy Air took Americans by surprise (Feis, 2015). He vividly remembers that he was out cleaning anti-craft guns when the attack took place. The experience did not make him despise his chosen profession. On the contrary, he continued serving in the army and experienced World War 2 through Vietnam. The event that changed his life was the assassination of JF Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. According to my grandfather, the day JFK was assassinated the country came to a screeching halt. The experienced changed his ideologies about the government. He suggested that 911 incident was a move by the government to make U.S citizens independent but also fearful of them (Radden, 2018). When I asked about his opinion on technological advancement, he remembered how hard it was in the past without technology. When making calls, one had to speak to an operator to be connected with someone. Additionally, he had to use the telegraph while on the ship to communicate with other ships and politicians such as the president. Thus, in his opinion, technological advancement today is a powerful force to reckon with because it has made things such as communication easier.
The experiences my father underwent during his time are different from those of my maternal grandparents. The advancement in technology and the enlightenment age changed how people viewed things in the 60s and 70s. My father attended Woodstock in the 60s, and he said that this was the beginning of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and HIV/ Aids. During concerts, people would experiment in drugs and free love which brought about these diseases. It was also a time were people dreaded being drafted to Vietnam. He was selected but like most people opted to go to college instead of going to Vietnam (Foley, 2003). Hence, during the 60s people did not feel the urge to serve their country unlike during my grandfather's time. My father had strong opinions about the historical events that took place in politics. For instance, he said that the Whitewater scandal made U.S look ridiculous. Furthermore, the event changed his view of President Nixon, whom he described as a racist (Anderson, 2018). The only event that positively stood out in his life was the first man going to the moon. My father said that it impacted his view of how dedication and hard work could pay off. Subsequently, another event that changed his outlook on life was the 911 incident. He was supposed to fly on the plane but did not. Thus, he believes that his decision spared his life. On technology advancement, my father said that it changed the lives of so many people. He was in the medical field as a doctor and computerization made things easier at his place of work.
In conclusion, history impacts individuals differently. The stories from my grandparents and father depict how history can transform one's views and beliefs. The events at Pearl Harbor and Vietnam directly impacted the career my maternal grandfather chose. After witnessing the pain caused by so many deaths, he chose to serve his country. The events of the Holocaust and immigration also impacted my grandmother personally. She found herself struggling to use traditional means to battle with many diseases. Hence, when technology came in, she believed that it would change people's lives. My father also went through turbulent times although they did not involve war. During his time, he was indirectly impacted by the spread of diseases such as STDs which killed many of his friends. The 911 incident also impacted his life personally because he could have been on the plane. Additionally, his opinion about the government was drastically changed JFK's assassination. It put Americans in the limbo of what was to happen next. Therefore, it is clear that history impacts us directly or indirectly (Nash, 2000). No matter the circumstances in which different generations experience events, they have a profound way of changing their lives.
Anderson, G. 08/10/1953 65 yrs. Old. Interview was October 10th, 2018 in Altoona, Iowa.
Feis, H. (2015). Road to Pearl Harbor: The Coming of the War between the United States and Japan. Princeton University Press.
Foley, M. S. (2003). Confronting the war machine: Draft resistance during the Vietnam War. University of North Carolina Press.
Haas, F. (2008). German science and black racism-roots of the Nazi Holocaust. The FASEB Journal, 22(2), 332-337.
Nash, G. B., Jeffrey, J. R., Howe, J. R., Davis, A. F., Frederick, P. J., & Winkler, A. M. (Eds.). (2000). The American people: Creating a nation and a society (Vol. 2). Addison-Wesley.
Radden, B. B. Interview over my lifetime of 34 years and her life of 84 years here on earth from April 8th, 1919 Co. Cork, Ireland and died May 30th, 2003 in Des Moines at Unity Point, Iowa Methodist Medical Centre.Radden, M. Alive 1920 to September 2007 at Mercy Medical Centre Des Moines, Iowa. Interview was over my lifetime of 34 years and his of 86years.
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