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Tidbits from American history, on a week when we seem to be extra-interested in history (source: “Don’t Know Much about History,” Kenneth C. Davis).

Benedict Arnold only turned traitor after many disappointments in his life and military career. In the early days of the American Revolution, he played a pivotal role in the Battle of Saratoga, New York, and was once considered a great hero of the revolutionary cause. There is a statue of a boot in Saratoga in his honor.

Betsy Ross did not invent the American flag. She made “ship colors” for the Pennsylvania fleet. The other famous story was a family myth.

Quote from Crazy Horse, the famous Sioux warrior, about fighting General Custer: “We preferred our way of living. We were no expense to the government. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone.”

At the funeral of William Lloyd Garrison (the pacifist and abolitionist), Frederick Douglass called him one of the greatest sons ever produced by the United States. The two friends parted company on the use of violence in a “just cause.”

The word “sideburns” comes from an American Civil War general, Ambrose Burnside, who was famous for his whiskery appearance.

In addition to her fame for overcoming blindness and deafness, Helen Keller also worked as a socialist and as a promoter of women’s right to vote.

The violent abolitionist John Brown (“John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave”) came from a family known for insanity.

Three reasons for these bits. History is interesting. History is more complicated than we usually think. And, history can help us create a better tomorrow. “My people perish for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

The Rev. Eugene Stockstill is pastor of Ebenezer United Methodist Church and Myrtle United Methodist Church in Union County.

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