Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Selling Off Pieces of America

I read an AP article this morning, one which bothered me enough to where I paused from my regular routine of checking today’s weather or even looking at the rest of the headlines.

“NEW YORK - A state archivist was charged Monday with stealing hundreds of artifacts — documents representing "the heritage of all Americans," according to the history buff who found some of them on eBay — to pay his household bills.”

My own twisted sense of humor kicked in, wondering if they put the suspect in a line up with Sandy Burger. “Is that a grocery list stuffed down your trousers or the minutes of a national defense meeting from the oval office?” I guess you really can buy “IT” on eBay, as their slogan suggests.

I have some really neat history books which contain replications of historical documents, not to be confused with the “historical documents” mentioned in the movie, Galaxy Quest. Turning the pages reveal translucent pockets which contain copies of letters, fragments of time etched on parchment in such a way as to convey ownership of history. I’ve posted on this twice before; here and here.

I suspect deep down in my heart were the opportunity to present itself, a chance to own an actual piece of early American history, something I could hide away in my desk, bring out for viewing whenever I wanted; that selfish instinct might exist in the back of my mind. However, and I’m pretty sure starting a sentence with However isn’t grammatically acceptable; a much stronger sense of citizenship which demands a reverence of the documents of American history for what they are, the property of every American and not just one individual, that would win out.

Stealing a six pack of beer from the local 7/11 store deprives the owner of his rightful investment; selling off pieces of America which were appropriated from archives intended to safeguard them for all to see is horrendous. Maybe the judge sitting on this case will have a sense of history, along with a sense of humor while asking the jury for their decision; instead of “guilty or not guilty”, glare at him across the courtroom and query, “Give him liberty or give him death.”

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