Keeping Family History Alive

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.

~ Marcus Garvey

When I was in high school, my mom and I went to go see Miss Saigon. I hate to admit I fell asleep during the play, but luckily the helicopter flying onto the stage woke me up and I was able to understand the story. It is a great story. Unfortunately, many things like that were wasted on my high school self….how I would love to see it again!

On the way home, my mom and I talked a lot about the Vietnam War. My dad served in Vietnam in 1964, so my mom had a lot of great stories to share. It was quite the time in history and my sisters and I have always been very proud to say our Dad went when called to duty.

When my mom and I got home that night, my mom pulled out some letters…lots of them. They were letters my dad had written to my mom while he was in Vietnam. They were something to read.

These letters were written by my Dad. But before he was our Dad, he was a young man, who loved to play football, could run the hurdles like nobody else, and he had been in love with my mom since he was sixteen. He had a very bright future ahead of him.

Those letters were written by a young man, who was fighting for his country in an unfamiliar, wild jungle. His letters were beautifully written. I was amazed to read about his surroundings…not the scary parts, but only the beautiful parts.

I learned something about my dad reading through those letters. He had the extraordinary gift of seeing the beauty even when there is a lot of ugly surrounding him. I was in awe of what he was able to see in the midst of war.

 It wasn’t the first time I was in awe of my dad and it certainly wasn’t the last. That is still happening, but those letters gave me the chance to glimpse into my dad as a young man…before he was ever called Dad. He hasn’t changed much and that’s a good thing.

My mom keeps those letters in her literacy box. Growing up, I didn’t even know she had one, but I’m sure glad she has one now. She has kept many letters from other family members like the ones from my great grandmother that she wrote to each of us growing up. She had only a fourth grade education, but her letters were beautifully handwritten and so full of her funny personality.

There are letters my sisters and I wrote while we were in college…those are quite humorous to read, too! I now understand when my mom says the college years are not easy!

So many little treasures in that box…. a family history.

I have my own literacy box, now, for my own family. I love sifting through it and seeing the letters, drawings, cards, books written by little hands and older hands. It is my little box of treasures that remind me of the uniqueness our family.

Each family has uniqueness.

Each literacy box will be filled with different pieces of literacy, but each of those pieces will add up to a beautiful family history…something to treasure!

So, what will be in your Literacy Box?



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