The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

Opinion

December 11, 2013

'Heritage Heroes' program aims to rescue history from dust bin

Medina Journal-Register —

These are dark times for the historian. All around us history is under attack. We are stripping it from the curriculum in the public schools, or making it subordinate to other disciplines. In the colleges, history classes are being stripped from program requirements left and right. In fact, where once a student would have to take two or three history classes for a four-year degree from a SUNY school, now a student can graduate without any history at all.
Outside the academy, history is doing little better. Recent surveys of historical knowledge in the general public are truly disturbing. Historic buildings are being pulled down faster than ever. Small historical societies are being forced to close down and the artifacts sold or distributed to other organizations. History, it seems, does not matter in modern society.
In the GLOW region, however, there are gleams of light to gladden the heart of the historian. These counties are exceptions to the bleak national picture, perhaps Orleans County most of all.
Here, it seems, the people are aware of the darkness elsewhere and are determined to preserve their heritage and take stock of the history of the area. Energetic organizations like the Sandstone Society, the Orleans-Renaissance Group, the Cobblestone Society and local historical societies are bucking the national trend. Orleans County is also fortunate to have Bill Lattin, their tireless county historian, leading the way.
Driving these organizations is a cadre of folks who are determined to transmit their heritage to the succeeding generations. When you survey the membership of these organizations, you cannot but notice that they are made up of many of the same people. But there are also numerous stories of individual citizens of Orleans County acting on their own to save a building, maintain a cemetery or commemorate the past in their own way. In some cases this means a considerable financial investment.

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