Curious love of history

After speaking Kearns Goodwin greeted students and signed their copies of her book. Jake Buntjer/UVU Review

Dr. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s love of history began when she was only six years old.

As a child, Goodwin’s father asked her to listen to the broadcasts of the Dodgers games that he would miss while at work. When he arrived home, he had his young daughter retell him the events of the game. This is where she learned the value of history and stories, and keeping them alive.

Goodwin spoke to a packed room of listeners on Sept. 16, and shared insight about the histories of the great men and women she has studied for years.

Goodwin shared with the audience parts of the lives of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, his wife Eleanor and President Abraham Lincoln. Yet rather than just discussing the portions of their lives that were in the forefront, she touched on who they were as people.

“I think it’s great she focused on the person, not the public figure,” said student and UVUSA member Erica LeMaster.

Goodwin spoke about the time when Lincoln had fallen into a deep depression. He was finally able to pull himself out of it when he realized his dream to do something worthwhile, so that his image could live on long after he was no longer here.

“Even in Lincoln’s wildest dreams, he never could have imagined how far his reputation would reach, how long his memory would last,” Goodwin said, after touching on the story of his death.

Goodwin spoke of the time when Leo Tolstoy was speaking to a group of barbarians and telling them stories of the great men of history; how they pleaded with Tolstoy to tell them about Abraham Lincoln.

Leo Tolstoy said of Abraham Lincoln, “What made Lincoln so great, after all? His greatness consisted in the integrity of his character and the moral fiber of his being.”

According to Goodwin, that dream to be remembered that empowered Lincoln his entire life had indeed been realized, the dream that had carried him through his childhood, and in the darkest days of the war. Lincoln’s story would be and has been told.

In her closing remarks, Goodwin told of how she had retold the history of her father, who passed away while in her 20s, to her own sons. She passed along her father’s love of baseball to her sons, and in doing so, her father’s history has lived on.

“I must say there are magic in these moments…[when] I see my sons in the place where my father once sat, I feel an invisible loyalty and love, linking my sons to the grandfather whose face they’ve never had a chance to see, and his heart and soul they have come to know through all the stories I have told,” Goodwin said.

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