Many of us grew up thinking history was a boring and irrelevant subject. Who cares what happened hundreds of years ago? How is this supposed to help me make a living?
History Come to Life seeks to change that way of thinking.
By addressing the audience as a historical personality, in period dress, our presenters are able to engage the minds and imaginations of audiences in a way that draws them into the subject at hand, weaving a combination of facts and principles into a compelling narrative. Whether the audience is a school assembly, civic organization meeting, conference seminar, or other event, they are sure to come away with lasting inspiration and memories.
All historians, writers, and dramatists have biases. No one can include every detail about an event or a person's life; what is included or left out--either deliberately or by default--reflects the historian/writer's biases. Some are more open about those biases than others are.
Not all of our characters were Americans, but most were. We believe that the United States is an exceptional nation in world history. While certainly not without flaws or blots, rare (if not unique) is the superpower that has used its vastly superior military and economic power almost exclusively for benevolent causes rather than grasping for the territory and wealth of other nations. We are gratified when our audiences are able to appreciate America's unique place in history.
Several of our characters are from the period around the War Between the States, a terrible epoch of our past, and they deal frankly with the complex issues of that time; J. C. Penney discusses the despair of the Great Depression. The fact that America has had such intense struggles and risen beyond them to become a beacon of liberty to the world is a cause for celebrating, and we basically present it that way.
Also, while not all of our characters were Christians in the orthodox sense, they viewed the world through an essentially Judeo-Christian framework. This has been the dominant worldview of Western civilization for centuries (at least until the last generation or so). To neglect this aspect of their lives completely would be intellectually and academically dishonest. The extent of discussion of this area will, of course, vary by character, setting, and specific program.
By presenting these historical figures and their accomplishments, we seek to inspire our audiences to fulfill their greatest potential in their roles as leaders, employees, family members, and citizens. In a society that seems to desire to know all the "dirt" on would-be heroes, we believe that heroes can be useful tools in encouraging others to do their best; therefore, we emphasize the positive traits in our characters.
This is not to say we totally ignore the "warts" they had. They were men: all men have sins, flaws, and other shortcomings. To overlook those negative traits would also be intellectually dishonest. We do not gloss over them, but neither do we dwell on them. Actually, seeing how these men failed at times and yet persevered can, itself, be an encouragement to the rest of us. None of them were superhuman; they were "just men" like we are, yet they were used to accomplish great things.
That's a good lesson for all of us!
-Jim Hendry (1959-2015), founder of History Come to Life.