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Today’s Weekly Calendar Fun Fact:

Charles Lindbergh was NOT the first to fly non-stop across the Atlantic. He was actually the 85th.

While it IS true that history is written by the victors, it is also accurate that it falls prey to a long game of telephone.  Essentially, facts tend to get a little foggy or get embellished from each different storyteller until the truth gets muscled out of the way for the more colorful and enticing tall tale.  For instance, Thomas Edison didn’t actually invent the lightbulb, he developed it.  He “borrowed” ideas from other inventors who were working on an incandescent bulb.  Or that Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned.  Nero wasn’t even in Rome when fire ravaged the city and the fiddle wasn’t invented until the Dark Ages.

No one in history is safe from myths and fanciful storytelling.  Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door and founded the Protestant church.  Actually, he never did that.  He never claimed to and there is zero evidence to prove he did.  What he did do was send those 95 Theses in a letter to an archbishop.  Or how many celebrate July 4th as the day the Declaration of Independence was signed.  It was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on that day but the majority didn’t sign it until August 2nd.

Sometimes the tales are outrageous but, many times, small details changed don’t take away any of the impact of what that moment stood for.  Take the case of Rosa Parks.  The small embellishment there was that she sat in a “whites only” section of the bus.  This is false.  She was actually sitting in the very first row of the African-American section.  The bus was full and, when a white passenger boarded and was forced to stand, the driver told Rosa and three others in that row to get up and move to the back.  She refused and history was made.  While that small detail wasn’t true, it doesn’t take away from the power of that moment or what Rosa stood for and fought against.  It doesn’t lessen the point in any degree.

Let’s not rag on history teachers too badly here.  Until recently, there wasn’t a sure-fire way to substantiate every detail in history aside from many versions of embellishment. Also, history is written by the victors so you have to take into account that every side has a different take on the same moment and that viewpoints can also change based on region, its people and their circumstances.  For instance, in the Northern States, learning about the Civil War puts a large focus on Lincoln and the issues of slavery but that sentiment is a little different in the Southern States.  For many in the South, they learned the facts and agree that slavery was wrong but see it as more of a war of economics.  Many actually call it “the War of Northern Aggression” instead of the Civil War.  So here is the same event seen from two completely different angles.  And now it makes a little more sense why there are so many differing takes on historical moments.

In the end, don’t be so hard on your History teachers.  They didn’t start it.

Conversation Ice Breaker Factoid:  George Washington never had wooden teeth.  He suffered major dental problems that resulted in the loss of his real teeth but likely used ones made out of gold, ivory or even from animals and other humans.  Wooden teeth would have been far too painful.

From the real reason the Titanic sank to the massacre we celebrate as a festive, family holiday, here are the facts your history teacher lied to you about!
What Tall Tale of History Is Your Favorite?
Leave a comment below and let us know!

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