History is made by everyone who is born into this world. The moment you take that first breath, you become part of the story. Most everything you do will affect someone in someway, down to the person on the street asking for money. Everyone has a share in this story, but not everyone is remembered for their part.
Recorded history often forgets the little person’s role in the legend. It doesn’t seem to care about the man who worked hard and somehow played a small part in keeping civilization alive. History ignores the woman who had a family and worked diligently to teach them about compassion, ethics, and responsibility. The teacher, garbage collector, nurse, bus driver, sales clerk, small business owner, construction worker, minister, and day laborer all have an impact on our society. Unfortunately, they are not all remembered.
While researching the history of San Francisco, it becomes apparent that those who made the most money are the ones who are remembered. The ones who were the biggest scoundrels and scammed the most people are the ones who are remembered. Often they are self-memorialized in a structure they built with their name on it to remind everyone of who they were and that they made a lot of money. These buildings are like giant, ornate tombstones scattered throughout the city.
Those who were supposedly the biggest saints are also the ones who are remembered. It is interesting to note that sometimes a figure can go from being the biggest scoundrel to the most pious of saints based solely on how they lived their life after they made their fortune or how they wrote their will.
But what about the common person? They are remembered on in their families for a couple of generations, and then they are a short sentence attached to a photo in a dusty album. Where is the museum to the men and women who really built this country with their hands and not their pocketbooks?
It is fun to read about the “great” people in history and marvel at all the awesome things they did and structures they built, but not at the moment. Instead, let’s try to draw today’s inspiration from the ordinary people who have gone before us. The common men and women who contributed to the story and legend that is history but never got their name in the newspaper. The ones who made it possible for the “historic” characters in history to achieve their goals and build great buildings.