Tuesday, June 10, 2008

History from a personal perspective

Saturday, June 7th, has long been remembered as D-Day, a time during World War II when Allied forces secured victory against the German army in a decisive battle that took place on the shores of France. The landing began the march across Europe in a move that would ultimately contribute to the eventual ending of the war.

A fan of all of the great generals of those days; Patton, Montgomery, and Bradley to name a few, I have immersed myself over the years in the rhetoric and literature surrounding that pivotal point in history. It probably didn’t hurt that I can lay claim to one father, four uncles and a godfather who volunteered, fought and came home from the same war and were therefore a part of history - vastly more exciting than the 8 a.m. history class I took as a college freshman.

My father served under General George S. Patton. As an only child born to two people whose ideas on childrearing included treating me like a “miniature adult,” by the time I was ten I not only understood who the Allies and the Axis were, I was enamored with the persona that was George S. Patton’s legacy to the world. You know the one: the profane, loud, obnoxious, God-fearing believer in reincarnation. Yep that’s the one. What information could not be gleaned from Dad’s stories was filled in through countless viewings of the movie “Patton,” starring George C. Scott. Now before you roll your eyes along with your computer mouse while simultaneously groaning that “Oreta can’t write about anything that isn’t patriotic, connected to some movie she watched a half a dozen times, or makes us cry” - bear with me. The direction of our journey will be visible over the next horizon…where our youth are residing.

At Fort Valley State University, we as faculty and staff members have the perfect opportunity to mold the minds and shape the lives of our charges – the students. We introduce students to things that they can only learn through recantations of the past - a past that is not only found in the pages of a history book (although that is certainly a good place to start). What do you have to share that would be a first-hand account of history? We are living in a time that is moving at the speed of light in terms of politics, war, scientific discoveries and other facets of daily life. We all have something to offer.

As I pointed out in last week’s blog, I “learned” something from the student’s point of view about rap music recently. It may not be the preferred setting on the radio for me, but I now have a clearer idea of what rap is all about. Take a moment and think of where you come from both geographically and personally; someone needs to hear about your experiences, your thoughts and your views.

One of the greatest blessings here at Fort Valley State University is the diversity we share. We are all so different yet we are all bound together by a commitment to serve the university and our students. Life experiences in the classroom drive home a message and catch students' interest. In the time it has taken you to read this, you have probably mentally revisited a few educators from your own past who taught you something that you have never forgotten. Wouldn’t it be so neat to leave that sort of an imprint on the students you encounter? Think about it, and while you do, I’ll just go off and ponder the current war in Iraq and wonder: “what would Patton do?” Have a beautiful week.

--Oreta Samples is the lead veterinary technician in the Veterinary Science Department at Fort Valley State University

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