The music from the late ‘60s touches my heart and evokes wonderful memories. As I now listen to tunes of my youth, I see the era through sepia filters of nostalgia, and clearer lenses of history. The museum’s mission is how stories of the past illuminate the present and guide us into the future. Stories provide context, wisdom, and a sense that the world is best understood by understanding others. The year 1968 demonstrates the point poignantly.

In the same year that I listened to tunes such as The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly by Hugo Montenegro, Those Were the Days by Mary Hopkin, and People Got to Be Free by the Rascalsx ThosThos, Czechoslovakia was invaded by Warsaw Pact nations. I recall my mom’s reaction to scenes appearing on our black-and-white Zenith television. While I was in Prague in 2010, I listened to people’s stories as they pointed out scars on buildings made by tanks involved in the invasion. Their stories helped me better understand my mom’s reactions, and stood in stark contrast to my feelings of security in 1968 as a 12-year old growing up in Houston, Texas. Their sharing also helped me better understand the students I taught at University of West Bohemia who came from Czech Republic, Russia, and the Ukraine.

The NCSML’s vision statement concludes “…we tell stories of freedom and identity, family and community, human rights and dignity that connect yesterday with today and tomorrow.” Different people will extract different lessons from the stories, but it is important that the stories are saved and shared to help people understand themselves, and then understand others through sharper lenses than the diffused ones of reminiscence and nostalgia.

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