Following up on my previous post on history, this one is a tad more radical, so bear with me.
The story we tell ourselves about what happened in the past, due to human biases, can be construed and twisted to serve a distinct purpose. We see this most readily (and especially recently) in our monuments, but it is also very apparent in our museums. There is honest history out there, certainly when showcasing primary evidence from a time period. But when we curate anecdotes and try to weave a story from history based on achieving a goal, we steer what many will take at face value as history into something more like propaganda.
I say this mostly to encourage a healthy dose of skepticism in our lives. As we're seeing now with the removal of Confederate monuments and the renaming of landmarks, we can move past the biases of our predecessors, and make sure our society reflects our current values. Something like the symbols of the Confederacy are a bit more apparent, but something like an American History museum, can be more subtle.
History is told by the victors, so the struggles or valid motives of the other side can often be misrepresented. The plight of Native Americans comes to mind. We are slowly coming to terms with that aspect of our history, but obviously it is far too late to do us much good. The damage is done. When we tell the story of our country's founding, we often paint ourselves in a positive light, versus being more objective in the showcasing of the way we handled this unprecedented culture clash between our fore-bearers and the Native Americans. Sometimes the stories aren't told at all, which is the true tragedy.
All this being said, we need monuments, and we need museums. We need to preserve artifacts and honor our heroes. We just need to do it in a way that properly shows our past; the good, the bad, and the ugly. And we need to be open minded and independent thinkers who will be able to see a representation of the past, and know it may not be the full story.