I've been thinking of something quite a bit of late. Why is it that some people feel stronger ancestral connections than others? Why do some have a stronger connection with the past than others? I had an eerie experience just a couple of hours ago. I was watching a documentary on the Battle of Culloden (of which the 270th Anniversary is fast approaching.....stay tuned for a special post). You can watch the documentary here. It is EXCELLENT! While I was watching the documentary, it talked specifically about Clan Cameron. I got goosebumps and my hands began to shake. Rather odd, I'd say. My grandmother was a Cameron and I am related to Camerons who were on the field that day. I also have relatives who were present in the Irish Detachment. I'm related to the Stuart royalty through blood and marriage (because they intermarried with the Fitzgeralds in Ireland). I don't know much about the lines of succession, but I tend to side with the Jacobites. My family was willing to die to put a Catholic King back on the throne and I rather think they wouldn't have done that if they were not convinced in the rightness of their cause. Besides, who wouldn't want to follow someone named Bonnie Prince Charlie!
I am not a monarchist by any stretch of the imagination. I do not like the idea of having a king or a queen. However, if other countries choose to have one, that's certainly their right. I get a chuckle out of the obsession some Americans have for the British Royal Family. We fought two wars so we wouldn't have to give a damn about the royal baby. But that's just me. I have a modest title of my own, though it is feudal and not noble. As much as I'd like to have my students call me Lord Hutch, I don't. I am related to a few people in Ireland and Scotland who hold real life Downton Abby kind of titles too, but so what? A title doesn't make you a better man (or woman). Your actions make you great, not your words. Would you treat me any different because I had a title? If so, I don't think I'd want to be your friend. But I digress.
I make no apologies for having the blood of Irish rebels (like the Lord Edward Fitzgerald above) and Scottish Jacobites pumping through my veins. I am what I am and I won't apologize for that. Not that I need to. Everyone wants to be Irish one day a year after all. Perhaps this is why I've always had a rebellious streak and am as stubborn as a deaf mule. Or so I've been told. I've identified with my family's past from an early age and this could explain why, today, I sort of live in the past. When I visit historical sights where my ancestors fought and died, I need only close my eyes and I can see it happening all over again in my mind. I've had students tell me that when I describe a battle, it is almost like I am recalling it from memory. In a way I guess I am. I did not choose to study the past. The past chose me to study it. That's how I've always felt. Then again, I could just be crazy.
I do not think I could be very effective as a history teacher if I did not feel this way. Others can be great teachers without feeling this way, so I am speaking only for myself. I do think that our ancestors call to us from beyond. By researching one's own origins, you can find out all sorts of interesting, tragic, or perhaps embarrassing items. (I have a family member who murdered his entire family with an ax.) But it can also help you discover who you are. Certain things are encoded in our DNA and cross the boundaries of time to touch us in the present. This is why I urge people to find out as much as they can about their origins while there is still time to do so. Consider that growing up, I was surrounded by World War Two veterans. Now, they are hard to come by and the current generation will grow up without ever having talked to one. That is tragic. This is why we need such stories preserved.
Stay tuned next week for my special Battle of Culloden post, though you'll probably see a few more from me between now and then. In the meantime, here is the beautiful, talented, and did I mention beautiful Amy MacDonald singing Flower of Scotland. She's very pretty for a non-redhead. And now.....for a special announcement.
I have finished my second Master's degree! This one in Criminal Justice. So thank you Saint Leo University! I started working on it in June of 2014. In the past two years, I've taught 6-9 courses a semester while taking two graduate classes. I've dealt with complications from my back injury. And a few months ago I was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome. But through it all I've managed to persevere and here I am today. Done. I worked much harder for this one than I did my MA in History, that's for damn sure. I could not have done it without the support of my beautiful wife (aka: The Redhead), pictured above. Our wedding vows said richer or poorer. We've been poorer. It said sickness and health. But all I've known is sickness. We celebrated 8 years of marriage last March. I don't know what I'd do without her. I certainly would not have been able to complete my degree had it not been for her help and support. My cats have also "helped" in their own way. I have also had the support of friends, faculty members, critique partners, and my own students who pestered me about my progress on occasion. This degree belongs to all of us, even though my name will be on it. So thank you all. Sincerely. And from the bottom of the block of ice that is my heart.
My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Half A$$ Historian who is now also a Half A$$ Criminal Justice-ian. Whatever the hell that is.