Students and teachers are in schools and online today with visions of violence and insurrection in their heads in the wake of an unprecedented breach of civility, utter disregard for the Constitution and the rule of law, and complete disrespect for the United States Capitol and all that it symbolizes. 

We study and teach history to make sense of challenging times like these. Our students need our patience and guidance. Let us listen to and engage them. Let us continue to espouse and encourage the value of civil discourse. Let us welcome vulnerability and inspire resilience.

We know that critical thinking is crucial, and historical perspective is paramount. Most important, we must continue to foster the empathy our students need to understand each other and the world around them. The most effective way to do that is through the study of history. As two of our students write:

One of the things I have gained is the ability to form opinions and take action based upon thorough research. Because I know how to question, I believe I am a better citizen of this country. No blind faith or cynicism for me! History has made me see a strong connection between our past and our future.


My love for cultures and places unique and distant from my beautiful home state of Wyoming is fulfilling . . . History Day has shaped my character and guided decisions I make. [My immigrant interviewees’] infectious grateful hearts, and resilient attitudes, their hard work, graciousness, and ambition to create a beautiful life has imprinted on my soul. Their strength, humility, tenacity, eagerness to explore opportunity, and ability to capitalize on education and liberty reminded me of what a girl born in America takes for granted.

The future is fragile, but what comes next is upon all of us. My National History Day colleagues and I will continue to work tirelessly to fulfill our mission and prepare the future citizens of American democracy to confront the demands of tomorrow.

January 7, 2021 •

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