March 20, 1951. Abilene, Texas. Time? Around midnight or at least thats what I have been told. My date, time, and place of birth. Shortly after this my Dad graduated from Hardin Simmons University in Abilene and my folks moved to southern California to a little town called Banning where I would grow up. I grew up in a home of readers and have had a lifelong love affair with books. I consider myself self educated even though I have sixteen years of formal education. I firmly believe that no one can "get" an education. For of necessity education is a continuing process. If it does nothing else, it should provide students with the tools for learning, aquaint them with methods of study and research, methods of pursuing an idea. We can only hope they come upon an idea they wish to pursue.
It is constantly reiterated that education begins in the home,as indeed it does, but what is often forgotten is that morality begins in the home also.
It also begins in the car seat, where many a budding criminal career is born when the child not only watches his parent repeatedly break traffic laws, but hears him lie about it when caught. The example is not, supposedly, expected to infiuence the child. Thankfully this was not the case with my folks. They practiced what they preached in every area of life and required their children to do the same. In any case I came into the world with two priceless advantages: good health and a love of learning. My own reading choices tend to history to a great degree, both ancient and modern with most of that focusing on military history. And historical novels are, in my opinon, the best way of learning history, for they offer the human stories behind the events and leave the reader with a desire to know more. Due to such books, and other reading I have done over the years, I found that no matter what country I visited or whom I met, I knew something of the history or romance of the country, or about a person's homeland.
These days there is no reason why anyone cannot get an education if he or she wants it badly enough and is persistent. Most cities in the United States have libraries and besides books libraries almost all offer access to the internet these days as well as access to books of all kinds.
It is often said that one has but one life to live, but that is nonsense. For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived , for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
What many people do not understand is that a child in growing up repeats in his early years much of the life history of man upon the earth, and it is necessary that he or she do this to become a human being.
At first a baby is simply a small animal that eats and sleeps, but there will come a time when he will want to build a shelter, to find a place he can crawl into, even if it is only a blanket over a chair or table. Then there will be the time when a child plays capture games, wants a bow and arrow or a rifle or pistol, or perhaps a spear or other weapon. By acting out those early years of mankinds history, children put that history behind them. Most violent criminals are cases of arrested development where, for one reason or another, they never grow out of that period.
Much of this early violence can be sublimated through reading. What so many of us who abhor violence often forget is that we have peace and civilized lives because there were men and women who went before us who were willing to fight for our freedom to live in peace.
It is always well to remember that many of us sleep safe at night because there are people out there cruising the streets and on call to keep it so. As many have discovered, violence is with us still, and no one is immune to a sudden strike in the night.
Each people is, I believe, inclined to believe it is the purpose of history, that all that has happened is leading to now, to this world, this country. Few of us see ourselves as fleeting phantoms on a much wider screen, or that our great cities may someday be dug from the ruins by archeologists of the future.
Surely, the citizens and the rulers of Babylon and Rome did not see themselves as a passing phase. Each in its time believed it was the end-all of the worlds progression. I have no such feeling. Each age is a day that is dying, each one a dream that is fading.
Someday, men--or some other intelligent creatures--will stand on the sites of New York or Los Angeles and wonder if anyone ever lived there.
We know so little of the past, and what we have discovered is largly what lies above water. Yet once, sea level was lower, and no dought there are cities of which we know nothing which once existd there. If something were to happen now, nothing might remain of our world but the faces on Mount Rushmore or the figures on Stone Mountain, and perhaps the foundations of some of our freeways.
Of the hundreds of plays written by Euripides, Aristophanes, Sophocles, and others, we have but a few. At least two hundred plays, whose titles we know, have vanished, and if so many plays, how many books on history,medicine, or other subjects, with probably fewer copies released at the time, are missing? Books as books must be preserved. There is an effort now to preserve everything by mechcanical means, but of what use will they be to a man who has no power? No means of producing the sounds or the words? A book can be carried away and read at leisure. It needs nothing but an eye, a brain, and the ability to read. If in some distant future, someone should come upon the remains of a library of ours, even if he could not read, he could through illustrations rediscover much otherwise lost. He would have no machine to play a tape; he would have no source of power.
Nations are born, they mature, grow old, and almost die, but after some years they rise again, and we in this country, as in all nations, need leaders with vision. Too few can see further than the next election and will agree to spend any amount of money as long as some of it is spent in the area they represent. I heard it once said that "Men who think in lifetimes are of no use to statesmanship."
Now with the vast distances of space opening before us, and the length of the journeys into outer space, we must begin to think in terms of generations and centuries rather than in years. Even with increased speeds and ease of travel, many of the exploratory journeys will be very long. It may also be important to consider trying to return some of the planets to livable worlds. We have many plants on earth that live in extreme deserts or on the fringes of icecaps, surviving under seemingly impossible conditions. Such plants might be given a trial in likely spots and leave the rest to time. There is evidence that there was once water on Mars, and very likely there are ice caves in some of the lava beds, just as we have here on earth. So I believe, that all that has gone before is preliminary, that our real history began with our first voyage to the moon.progress at first may be slow, but man will not be held back. There will always be those few who wish to push back the frontiers, to see what lies beyond. And so, my parents who also loved to read had their largest impact and influence on my life by passing on their love of books and the printed word to me and my three sisters.