Before It’s Too Late

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I recently wrote an article for the Gilbert Republic about how the rural feel of the city is quickly disappearing. I talked about missing photo opportunities that I have regretted. First it was the potato farm on Pecos and Power; the buildings disappeared shortly after I moved from Scottsdale. For weeks I intended to get my camera into the car and suddenly, the opportunity was gone. My article was primarily about the recent disappearance of the dairy on the SE corner of Germann and Greenfield Roads. And in my article I wrote about the dilapidated wood structure on Queen Creek Rd, and Greenfield – the one with the American flag painted on the roof. Today I am getting my camera in the car with me and I am going to stop and take a photo. I’ve waited for an early weekend morning with no cars to distract from the image. Now I’m simply determined to get anything I can onto “film” before it, too, is gone.
This morning I watched the most recent updates on Hurricane Irene and its impact on Vermont. Depending on which source you read, one or up to five, of their famous historical covered bridges collapsed this weekend. They will never “be” again. They are gone. You can’t re-build an historic structure. You can replace it but it cannot be duplicated. I was always going to make a fall trip back east for the gorgeous autumn foliage. And I always wanted to cross those bridges. They were our history, part of our country, part of who we are as Americans.
I was in Europe in March, and I stood and did my tourist-gawking at buildings from the 1600’s, even back to the 1400’s. Europeans treasure their history. They shore up their buildings; they restore and repaint and replenish cathedrals, palaces, government buildings, bridges, and towers. It sometimes takes them years to complete these projects.  But Europeans believe in maintaining their past, no matter the cost or time.
I recently heard a news report about how little history our current teens know today. Simple things like: What was President Lincoln known for? What are the branches of government? Which came first, the Civil War or the Revolutionary War? Their answers were astounding and so far off base, it made me shake my head. What happened, I asked. How can that be? I realize there is fifty more years of history now than there was when I studied it. But honestly, Ben Franklin, the Civil War, the houses of Congress??
I thought perhaps I’d blame it on technology. These kids have had to learn so much in such a short time. Technology changes daily; they must keep up with the latest gadgets, the latest and fastest applications, the global economy and world we live in. It is different. But I wonder. I’m going to Google European teens and their knowledge of history some time today. Surely they are not as ill informed as our U.S. students.
Surely with the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Parliament buildings, Versailles, Hampton Court, the Louvre, the canals of Venice, the Parthenon, the Coliseum in Rome. Surely with all that staring them in the face, European students must know history. They seem to treasure it, respect it, realize that the world they live in today is based on all of their past. Each art museum we entered last spring was packed with students of all ages, from primary grades through high school. Versailles and Hampton Court were the same. Large herds of little ones meeting King Henry outside the gates of the palace.
I wanted to come home and shake those surveyed students; wanted to reprimand the adults who think that art and history are unimportant and who fail to support the education of those very students.
And…. On a personal note, I will also tell myself to stop sitting on my behind, get that camera in the car and take the time to see the remaining bridges of Vermont.

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