At a recent family reunion, my older brother said he had been reading my letters. That led us to compare notes. We actually compared memories and discovered that we had slightly different recollections of the same events. I believe that is common among families with decades of history. After all, we were not reporters. We were just kids living life. And when we re-live certain incidents, we do so through the filter of our life…not somebody else's.
I write about particular events because they stick out in my mind. They made an impression on me. Gary and I will talk about a certain occurrence and one or the other will have vivid memories of it in striking detail. The other one, not so much. I think it is human nature. It is not exactly revisionist history at work, but it may be something similar.
In this day and age, it is getting much harder to get by with it. Ask Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Brian Williams and countless other people who remembered an event or conversation a certain way. Cue the videotape. Well, what do you know? Maybe it didn't happen the way I remembered it. Did they just get fuzzy on the details? Or, as some tellers of tall tales claim , did they "misremember" it? How about exaggeration or embellishment? All I know for sure is that if you intentionally change the facts for your convenience, it is called lying.
So, there we were; arguing about the details of a not-so-fateful day that I had written about in a recent letter. We were trying to piece together the sequence of events that turned a backyard rock fight into a couple of us becoming moving targets for him and his BB gun. Not that it mattered to anybody but us.
Still, we wanted our history to be accurate. But, again, it is not unusual to remember those historical happenings differently.
Golfer Lee Trevino put it this way, "The older I get, the better I used to be."
It is never okay to embellish, but a memory with different variations among family is pretty much harmless. Telling a congressional committee or the whole world differing accounts of your own history; that is something different altogether.
All three of the folks I mentioned as having said one thing and remembered another were given the benefit of a doubt. Not by everybody, but by enough people to allow two of them to run for president of the United States and the third to remain an anchor at a cable news network.
Full disclosure here. I spent almost an entire day with Brian Williams at the NBC studios in New York back in 2005. We were there to do a story on him taking over the anchor chair at NBC Nightly News from Tom Brokaw.
He really liked me and my photographer, John Berry. We liked him, too. It was a good day. At least, that is the way I remember it.
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