eng 4 - 102-Chocos

Maryam AlShamsi
Professor Chocos
English 102
Assignment 4
June 16, 2013
History VS Memory
So many events have occurred through out the years that have led to significant
fingerprints in the history of this world and as time goes by more events are created and more
historical fingerprints are printed in history. People living in the time that those events occur
might be able to retell the event later on in their life from their own memory or by hearing what
people talk about sending only one side of the story not knowing the truth behind the historical
event it self. Learning about the past is an important factor in ones life; this is because it creates
an understanding of what had happened in the past and to avoid all the negative actions from the
past into the present and the future. Learning history could be done through out two ways, one is
to learn the history of the past from historians who are specialized into studying what exactly
happened in the past from the start to the process and till the end or on the other hand, the second
way is to learn from memories from the past that people that are not specialized in the field of
history can tell. However, there is a significant difference from learning history from historians
that have studied the historical events and non-historians that just recall a memory from the past.
Through out the article “Professing History: Distinguishing Between Memory And Past”
written by the historian Elliott J. Gorn demonstrates the significant difference between history
and memory. In the article Gorn emphasized the important role of historians and how they are
viewed upon the people of the society, “Many people in the humanities believe that historians are
nothing but mindless empiricists tweedy, seedy and dull.” (646) People tend to now show respect
towards the historians and show such lack of trust towards them. On the other hand, Gorn
explains the importance of the historians and the power they have into controlling the thoughts of
the people. Historians are the ones who are able to distinguish between what is a memory and
what is history, they also create a great affect into the society from the way they talk and analyze
the past. Each historian could have a different opinion that the other but somehow their opinions
have always being edited due to the power of higher positions in the hierarchy such as political
Christopher Columbus has always been spoken about in a positive way to the new
generation in schools. They are barley taught the real history behind his accomplishment of
discovering The United States of America. The story that they are told is that Columbus
discovered America by coincidence and then went back to his country with gold and several
people he met through out his journey. Telling a story this way is an example of telling historyusing memory. However, the historian Howard Zinn discusses Columbus’s matter in details and
talks about his achievement from another side using details studied from the past. Zinn is one of
the few people out there who revealed the truth behind Columbus’s journey into discovering
America through out his article “Columbus, the Indians. And Human Progress.” Zinn shows how
Columbus abused the Native-Americans and took them away from their homeland and treated
them like slaves in order for him to take all the gold back to his country, Spain. The negative
impact about telling stories about the past from one side that is recalling a memory is that it
creates damage towards the society. This is shown through out the article “Superman and Me” by
Sherman Alexie as he discusses his struggles as a young native-American boy who suffered from
many stereotypes about his group of people as he says, “We were Indian children who expected
to fail in the non-Indian world.” This shows the negative effect upon not understanding the past
in the correct way.
In conclusion, history should always be told from both sides in order to show a clearer
image of what really happened in the past. Memory is the poor side of explaining a historical
event that has happened in the past this is because it may send the wrong message or it may hide
the truth behind so many historical events such as Columbus. History should always be taught
and told in a way of history studied and written by historians who have a greater and a wider
span of knowledge and details about a specific historical event. This will create a clearer image
of what really happened in the past in the eyes of the new generation.