News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

November 30, 2010

MS. TAKES: Thankful for the voices we have

TERRE HAUTE — The family assembled as usual for the Thanksgiving feeding frenzy. We were missing our granddaughter who is studying in Ireland this semester, so we plugged in the computer and took turns sending her messages about how all her favorite foods were consumed as a tribute to her.

I was, of course, giving thanks for the whole day. In addition to the customary thanks for family and friends, good health and freedom — all four of those so memorably pictured by Norman Rockwell — I number other blessings.

I am thankful and boundlessly grateful to people I don’t even know who have made it possible to retain forever the sights and sounds as history unfolds. Some of my favorites are already history.

How sad it would be if the voice of Frank Sinatra was only a memory. I can call it up with the touch of a switch on the CD. Maybe I should be thinking iPod?

Somewhere stored in archives are the voices and faces of Jack Benny and Fred Allen, of Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong and Jimmy Durante. Just the memory is good for a laugh and how wonderful it is that they exist and maybe the iPod generation can actually call them up.

I appreciate this addition to history, but the thought of those voices and faces which are lost forever make me doubly thankful for what we have. What wouldn’t I give — not to mention what scholars would give — to see William Shakespeare on stage. How amazing if we could hear his voice and know with absolute certainty what he looked like.

We don’t know what Cleopatra looked like either, and wouldn’t it be nice to have a video of Julius Caesar setting foot over the Rubicon or to hear his voice and the roar of his army as he led them into battle?

I would give almost anything to be able to see and hear Queen Elizabeth I as she addressed her troops prior to the arrival of the Spanish Armada. The words have been preserved, but I want the delivery.

Maybe all those sights and sounds are drifting around out there in the air. Maybe someday a genius will put together bits and bobs of technology and retrieve them for us. But, I am thankful that we have what we have. We are so lucky.

Liz Ciancone is a retired

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