I love history. There are many things about studying history that I love. One thing I love is trying to grasp where humanity as been, understanding the way events and knowledge work together.
My love of history has married with my love of creative writing, which is why I tend to write historical fiction. In my research for my current work, I’ve been reading “Letters from the Dust Bowl” by Caroline Henderson. I mentioned her in a previous post.
I read a passage tonight that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was a moment of clarity and historical perspective, especially if you’ve followed the United States House of Representatives recent defunding of the food stamp program.
Now, I make no claims of wanting to debate politics here, that’s not my purpose in posting this. My purpose is simply to connect the modern world with the writings of a woman in 1935. Caroline Henderson was a wheat farmer and wrote a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture, Henry A. Wallace, called “Dust to Eat” in July 1935. Here is only a small portion of that letter. I would encourage you to read more.
“Our personal hope is that eventually the limitation policy may give way to a more ample production program with storage facilities sufficient for all emergencies, planned on the broad basis of human need. A country blessed with America’s actual and possible wealth ought to feel humiliated by the thought of a single ragged, undernourished child…”
Caroline Henderson was writing to explain the severity of the situation to the American public. Most of us know what the entire nation, and the world, were going through in 1935. I believe that those in leadership at the time were trying their best to get a nation, who had lost their spirit, back on their feet. We, in the 21st century, have the benefit of hindsight. There is power, though, in looking backward to the times before us and remembering when we, humanity, were at our best and when we were at our worst.
Caroline goes on to say:
“…we are glad for even one hesitating step toward what has been called ‘the American dream,’ the equalizing of opportunity so that even the humblest may be free to develop whatever native gifts he may possess…”
I’d like to believe that Caroline Henderson would look upon the opportunities we’ve made and taken with approval, but I also believe she’d agree that we have still further to go.