We Stand Upon the Shoulders of our Past

 “We Stand Upon the Shoulders of Our Past”

Forever Family Trees Motto!

“We Stand upon the Shoulders of Our Past!” I was 14 years old when I first heard this quote.  It came from a history teacher who was really really, I mean really old!  She had grey hair, she was thin and hunched over and, most importantly, she did things “old school!”  As we read from the history book text, she would RAP her teacher’s stick on our desk.  You had better be following along and ready to read, in the middle of a sentence, without skipping a word!  Or?  Well, we never found out what “or” would have been because we all held a little fear in our hearts for this strict little grandma!  But, importantly, she taught us to love learning and, because she had such a command of the classroom, it was my favorite class.  We hung on her words.  She made history become real for us.

During one of her first lessons, this quote, “We Stand Upon the Shoulders of our Past,” stuck with me. I immediately began etching it across my binder with a rainbow colored outline that grew and grew until I couldn’t outline it any more as it ran off the cover of my binder.  (I’m sure every girl who grew up in the 80’s made one of these art colored rainbows!)  Every day I would read that quote.  I would ponder its meaning and wonder, “who was I?”  At different times in my life it has formed into different ideals of who I am, where I came from, and what makes me, me!

As the years have rolled on, since my 14-year-old self, I feel like I’ve discovered for me the real meaning behind “We Stand Upon the Shoulders of our Past.” I have genetic characteristics from generation, upon generations, of ancestors who came before me like blond hair, blue eyes and long fingers.  Also, their choices have led me to live where I do today: in America, in a land of possibilities.  Their customs and food, even today, are an important part of my own family’s culture.  Sewing has been handed down at least 4 generations and we still cook “palačinke” from the mother land of Slovenia.

These kinds of things make each of us unique! And so…our stories and their stories need to be remembered! We must not forget; where we came from, what sacrifices were made for us, and how we can do hard things because of their examples.

Each of you will have to discover what “Standing Upon the Shoulders of our Past” means to you. As we discover our past, present and future selves together, we can find JOY in All Things Family History!

Have a fabulous day!


P.S. I have looked to see where this quote comes from many times. The closest I have found was this: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton. Perhaps I heard my history teacher wrong all those years ago, but never the less, the impact has been worth it!


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