Thanksgiving 2012

The cornucopia – horn of plenty – symbolizing the abundance of a good harvest, comes down to us from the ancient Romans. Americans have traditionally associated the symbol with Thanksgiving.

We have the great good fortune to live in a nation that is wealthy enough to be able to support a robust historical establishment. University programs and fellowships produce their own cornucopiae of newly minted historians each year. Many if not most cities and communities sponsor or at least encourage local historians to accession and preserve their communities’ stories. Some corporations have historians on staff (I retired from Kaiser-Permanente, a company that does this). Even our popular culture embraces – and purchases – the works of excellent historians who have plumbed the far reaches, and the nooks and crannies of our national history. The instant popularity of Jon Meacham’s biography of Thomas Jefferson is but the most recent example of this.

Personally, I’m thankful that a generous and well-planned retirement Plan permits me the leisure and the resources to pursue my own historical interests. I suspect there are a good many others like me in this country.

The Society for the History of Navy Medicine enjoys the great good fortune of having a membership whose voluntary dues-donations provide generous financial support for graduate students whose papers are accepted for presentation at Society panels, and for a graduate student research grant – all to encourage research, study and publication in our narrow little corner of history.

Yes, we are experiencing hard financial times, and funding for some historical work is hard to come by. Yet the work does go on. Ours may not be a perfect historical world, we do indeed have much to be thankful for.

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