Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What matters in History

As a model builder, I take keen interest in details. As someone who researches events and hardware, I am also concerned with the details of an event.

But as someone who advocates for history, I am less interested in details. How much does it matter what color a ship was or what types of guns it carried in the overall scheme ofo thing when you're trying to teach someone the key points of an event?

Sure, one reason the US won at the battle of Midway was our radar technology, but how much does that matter to the point that at THIS point we stopped the Japanese from a success and crippled their offensive power?

That's not to say that details don't matter; sure as hell they do. If I build a model of a ship for a sailor who was aboard her I want to make sure he or she can point to an area and say "I used to hang out here during general quarters," instead of "we had a gun mount right about here I was stationed at."

Some people are happy to take a lump of material, slap a number 14 on it and call it USS Ticonderoga, but I believe to truly honor a ship and her crew, you should strive to get as many of the details and particulars right as you can.

It's what separates those who build or read for fun from those who build or read for bigger reasons. But we shouldn't forget when advocating history that sometimes you need to let people walk before they can run, and the finer details aren't the the end all of history.

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