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Precious Memories

By Philip J. Merrill

People often tell me that they wished their family had been more aggressive in documenting their family history. I usually reply that it's never too late to start. With technology developing so rapidly, it's easier now than at any other time to capture all kinds of precious memories. For example, we now have disposable digital cameras, cell phones with cameras, affordable mini-DVD cameras, scanners, and a host of other gadgets that are readily available and increasingly affordable.

Currently in the bookstores I've found at least seven new magazines that focus entirely on the A-B-C's of preserving memories. Amazingly, there are scrapbook clubs all across the country, as well as new scrapbook supply stores opening. A brand new industry has been created around the preservation of memories, and it does not appear to be just another short- term fad.

I challenge UMBC students to start preserving their personal histories today, if you haven’t already. Seniors still have time to search through their belongings to save some important mementoes from their early college years. I encourage everyone to snap more pictures, clip some newspaper articles, get some autographs, keep a few ticket stubs from memorable events, save a few important cancelled checks, and hold onto report cards, term papers, tests (especially those with high marks!), and even some emails. One day many years from now you will be able to pull out this treasure trove of memories and share them with family and friends, both old and new. Just think how amazed your children and grandchildren will be to learn that you were once young – and smart! And you’ll bowl them over with the low cost of college today!

Another important way to preserve precious memories is to keep a journal. As an example, the following is an entry that I made in my journal in 1975, when I was in the 6th grade:

Today Was A Special Day

Today April second is my great-grandmother’s birthday. She is 84 today and still acting like she is in her seventies. Mom is going to take her out shopping so she can buy anything she wants to make her happy, and her daughter also bought her a nice pair of black shoes. Grandmother likes Aunt Florence’s pocketbook so much that she bought it from her. We as the family took her out to dinner at Meushaw’s, an elegant, charming, beautifu ,l superb dining place. I hope she really enjoyed her birthday because we did. We all love her so much we don't know what we would do without her.

As I read this journal entry over and over again, it makes me feel warm inside and brings a smile to my face. Your memories will do the same for you one day. Start saving them now! Know History, Know Self.

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