Memories are made to be broken

I found a perfect illustration for the existence of Story Chip, right in my own writing backyard. Several years ago I wrote about my experiences on the day in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated – my own "where were you when" Kennedy was killed - one of those events one never forgets. We see them in our memories as video, crystal clear, no doubt as to the accuracy of those memories, etched in the stone of our gray matter.

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Madison Elementary School

In my recounting of this memory I knew to be wholly accurate, I wrote of being in school in Arlington, Virginia. The father of one of my classmates was a friend and colleague of then Vice President Johnson. I wrote of how this man’s son Lyndon, and others, were the first to be released from school that day in order to protect their families or to assist those in deeper grief than those not close friends or associates of the President. I knew this to be true, factual and beyond dispute.

After writing my memory of the assassination, I ran into the grown up Lyndon at my high school reunion and reviewed the events of that day with him. To my shock and the shock of my etched in stone gray matter, I learned from him, that he and his family had returned to Texas, in the summer of 1973, so that his father could get to work on the reelection campaign. Lyndon had not even been in Virginia at the time of the assassination and did not return until after the assassination. My memory had failed me! I had so clearly remembered this potent event incorrectly. Somehow, my brain had enhanced this 50 year old story and in recounting my memory, I was incorrectly reporting the facts.
This was startling, disturbing and thrilling. The startling and disturbing is pretty much self-evident. The thrilling part is that this fallibility of our memories forms the main argument for Story Chip. Many memories are required to accurately tell a story.

The seed of Story Chip was sown, oddly enough, also nearly 50 years ago, in history class. My beloved history teacher, Mrs. Anderson, gave each of us a handful of first-hand accounts of the battle of Lexington and Concord. Each one of these accounts was different. From reading these accounts, who fired the first shot was not clear. Just as my memory of where Lyndon was on the day of the assassination, the tellers of the tale of the first battle of the Revolutionary War, which was no doubt the where were you when moment of that era, were equally vulnerable to the foibles and vagaries of the mind and memories. However, with the handful of accounts given us by Mrs. Anderson, we were able to come to some understanding of the events of the day. Story Chip’s mission is to carry out on a global platform what Mrs. Anderson taught her fledgling historians nearly 50 years ago - that memories are fallible but with many memories put together, we can come to a reasonable view of the truth.

So, as you read stories on this site, help us to tell the truth of our world and its history. By adding your own memories you become an important part of the truth of the history of our world. In recording your stories, not only are you preserving your memories, you are also helping to flesh out our collective truth.
Jean McGavin

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