I remember finding a letter from 1945, written by my father from the South Pacific at the end of the 2nd World War. Japan had surrendered, and he was sharing with his parents that he and his fellow soldiers were not so much jubilant as they were exhausted. He wondered aloud about the future of mankind with such powerful weapons in the hands of mere men. It was a very unique look into a time in my Dad’s life I would never otherwise see. He was 24 at the time; I was 32 when I read the letter. For the first time, I related to my father as a young man with an unknown future.
Flashing forward to today, so many of us are creating a body of work online that will not be stored in an attic, but will last in perpetuity. Blogs, postings, Tweets, and Facebook will give our children and grandchildren enormous access into our thoughts. Some will actually know how it was for us when 9/11 occurred, Barack Obama was elected, and when they were born. Can you imagine?
Can you imagine knowing JFK’s personal thoughts during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Jackie’s feelings when she was newly widowed? What about Thomas Jefferson’s feeling on July 5, 1776? If Christopher Columbus could tweet on a blackberry, what would he have told us? Or Martin Luther? Charlemagne? Francis of Assisi? What if you could learn about your great grandfather, or your great great great grandmother?
Knowing my mother’s thoughts when Pearl Harbor was bombed, when my father proposed, or when her dad died would be extraordinary. Understanding my father’s feelings when he was a GI in a tight spot, when he was working in the Great depression, and how he felt when I was born (he was 46) would be enormous. I have always wondered what my grandfather Salvatore experienced at Ellis Island when he arrived from Sicily.
Future generations will know all of this. Your great great great great great grandchildren will know you. I don’t know about you, but that’s part of the reason I write. I’d like to build a company my children, if they chose, could run. If they knew that it just didn’t appear, that it wasn’t all easy, and what challenges I faced, it would make a difference in their stewardship. It might also tell them something about their father they might not otherwise know.