Peggy Cooper, of northern Kentucky, is the co-editor of Celebrate a Community, soon to be reprinted by Murky Press.
Celebrate a Community began as a group project. It grew out of an effort to celebrate the Sesquicentennial of Fayetteville, Ohio. Fifty years before, my co-editor, Harold Showalter, had organized the Centennial Celebration of this small rural community.
That celebration was a powerful influence on many of us younger folks. Suddenly, fifty years later, we were the generation that would decide if our community’s history was still important enough to commemorate and remember.
My brother-in-law asked a few weeks ago why all of these old stories are important. He couldn’t see any value in things said and done long ago. I mumbled some response that would convince no one of the importance of the task.
Having had a chance to consider the question, I would now ask if he would mind being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia. Of course he would! None of us would choose such a disease—death, a little bit at a time, as our memories and all that is important and meaningful slips away forever. Communities can suffer from a kind of Alzheimer’s, too, and the effect is just as devastating for the stricken community as it is for the stricken individual.
Remembering is important to who we are, as individuals or as a society. Sadly, the importance of history often goes unrecognized until it is too late to claim it. I am proud to have been a part of the effort to preserve our sense of community.