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This day in history

George Santayana, the noted Spanish-born American philosopher, once said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Those words, repeated in some form or another through the years, ring especially true today when many school-age children have difficulty with their knowledge of current events or persons in the news.

Some, I’ve heard, cannot locate even prominent countries on a map or globe.

Much of this, in my opinion, comes from a continuing decline in reading, even for recreation, and a subsequent lack of interest in history.

One reason is the advent of the iPad and Kindle, and the decline of major publishing houses, as my editor Paula Bryant refers to in her column penned by Michael Levin.

History, along with related subjects such as geography and social studies, are as important as ever in this complex, ever-changing world.

Just look at some of the events that happened this week in history, including passage of the Judiciary Act of 1789, which established the Supreme Court (Sept. 24, 1789); the first John F. Kennedy-Richard Nixon presidential debate (Sept. 26. 1960); and the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas (Sept. 25, 1957).

On Sept. 28, 1941, Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox Major League baseball team became the last man to hit .400 for a season, and on Sept. 30, 1955, the actor James Dean died in a tragic automobile wreck.

More specifically, on this date (Sept. 24) “60 Minutes” made its debut on the CBS network (1968), the first transatlantic telephone cable went into operation between Newfoundland and Scotland (1956), and the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, The Enterprise, was launched at Newport News (1960).

In my humble opinion it is hard to look forward without looking back, and it’s hard to get current perspectives without acknowledging what happened before.

With elections coming up, it’s more important than ever, no matter which candidate you choose, to study the issues and determine which candidate best suits your ideas as to which direction your county, state and country are headed.

Historical perspective may help in that decision, and it sure can’t hurt.