Pattie Rydlun Blog

Getting you on the right track

What History Teaches Us

We are living history. What happens in the world, our country, our culture, the trends all ends up in history books and books in general, be it fiction or nonfiction. I just finished reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Pulitzer prize winning book No Ordinary Time about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.

I usually review self-help, business books or biographies in my blog but there is so much we can learn from the past and sometimes I wonder why we don’t implement the things we learn. I confess that the World War II genre is one that I am drawn to read. Maybe because it was so close to me in time and people. My uncles fought in that war and i had relatives from Poland who escaped—only some of them—the war and the effects of the war…Stalin being one of the most disastrous effects.

So much of what I thought about the war was affected by my parents opinions about FDR, The New Deal, the US getting into the war, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Reading this book brought clarity and understanding of the machinations of us getting into the war and how it changed so many things in the United States. The United States emerged more powerful and more productive than ever. Yes, sacrifices were made during the war but the postwar United States saw amazing prosperity.

I was impressed with the role Eleanor Roosevelt played and her insight to many of the issues of the day. She was at the forefront and an advocate of Civil Rights— including how African American men were treated in the Armed Forces, Jim Crow laws were still enforced in the military—initially they weren’t given combat training, there were no African Americans n the Marines, in the Navy they were relegated to serve as mess men with no room for advancement; she was ahead of her time championing women’s rights—the right to work, the right for equal pay for equal work, day are centers to care for children, and when women were fired from their jobs as soon as the men came home from the war but women came back into the work force almost with a vengeance;  and Eleanor was the one who pushed for care for the veterans and the GI Bill of Rights even before the war ended.

There were so many changes in our country after this war. There was no going back to the way things were. Every segment of American society was touched and changed. The American economy was altered forever. This book is not the usual 200 to 250 self-help pages but it is so well worth the read. I was inspired!

This reminded me of so many of life’s lessons:

  • Stay true to your convictions.
  • One person can make a difference.
  • Take action.
  • No one is perfect.
  • Disruption causes change and massive disruption causes massive change.
  • Positive change depends on timing, people, and leadership.

What will historians say about today’s stories? How will this era make a difference? Please let me know what your feelings, thoughts, and take aways were from this book.

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