Recovering History in Our Midst
The death last week of Henry Hank Burroughs Jr., of West River renowned Associated Press photographer, Chesapeake Bay gentleman and friend to newspaper people everywhere recalls the wisdom of learning from others about our world.
We were enriched three years ago when we persuaded Hank, then 78, to tell us about his remarkable life. In these pages he related his up-close experiences with presidents back to Franklin D. Roosevelt, his priceless tips for amateur photographers and the joys of sailing far and wide with his wonderful wife, Peg.
If there was a photograph you remember of, say, Dwight Eisenhower or the Kennedy kids in the White House, chances are that Hank took it.
His passing reinforces our New Years resolution for 2000: Seek out more history and guide our readers in doing the same.
We sometimes forget that history is not locked up in textbooks. At this very moment, each of us is living our history; history is all around us. But so often in our scrambling, Internet-driven world, we neglect the riches in our midst.
Its like being in a diamond mine in the dark. Suddenly someone flashes a light someone like Hank Burroughs and everything sparkles.
You dont have to seek out the famous or the near-famous to see the light. There are regular, play-by-the-rules folks in your family and in your neighborhood who are just as fascinating for what theyve lived through, for how much they have endured. When theyre gone, so is a slice of history unless weve captured it.
As part of our continuing millennium coverage, we will regularly devote our pages to recovering and recording the rich history of the Chesapeake Bay region. We will also be offering suggestions on how you, too, can capture history, both in writing and recording.
If youre lucky, as we were, youll find someone like Hank Burroughs, who captured Richard Nixon brooding in his office and a chimpanzee named Ham, Americas first astronaut.
From living historians, we learn not just what happened but also how it felt, as we learned when we asked the world-traveled Hank what he thought about the life along the Chesapeake Bay.
I love it, he said.
People along the Bay loved Hank in return.