What is the value of history? My students often ask that question.

History has no real value for them until they are directly affected, possibly experiencing various aspects of our great Constitution or in discovering their roots.

Those who immerse themselves in the Great American Story will realize the nation has some sordid chapters about the human condition: Slavery, immigration, the lack of rights for women, the lack of educational resources for the poor and the unprotected laborers, including women and children.

What role does history play? It is through education that our story and our identity is preserved. For my students, points of interest often center on photographs, paintings and illustrations. Many of Maine schools currently have murals that often tell the story of their communities while celebrating their culture.

The Department of Labor building belongs to the Maine people, not to “labor” interests. In judging our legacy, one cannot be selective.

Our Maine workers labored long and hard to improve their working conditions, as our Maine museum exhibits attest.

The murals in the labor building were commissioned as a tribute to the sacrifices and travails of our Maine ancestors. It is their story, and their story deserves recognition. It is fitting that this remembrance be based in the labor building. The governor’s action belittles their memory, their diligence, their adversities and their sacrifices.

A rock thrown into a calm pond ripples far and wide. Once it leaves the hand, the course is set, never to return. This travesty has deepened the rifts between the governor and his constituents. Our beautiful state needs strong leadership, but not at the expense of destroying our historical identity.

Diana Dionne-Morang

2008 Maine History

Teacher of the Year

Gardiner

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