George Santayana cleverly stated that, “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Elements of history are cyclical and can be seen popping up time and again throughout the centuries. Acquiring a better knowledge of what came before us is essential in order to learn from the lessons experienced by others. While in a different historical context, the political and social occurrences of the past can be applied to modern situations and the greater the amount of people who are informed about the goings on of the past, the higher the likelihood that the unfortunate problems of days gone by will not be repeated. Without having to resort to the drudgery of chaining one’s self to a tired and dusty history book, satellite television provides the option of learning about history while simultaneously being entertained.
The History Channel does a wonderful job of bringing the past into the present in an exciting way. Moving away from the dry textbook understanding of history, the programs featured on this channel explore the human element behind many of the events of the past. The channel features documentaries that explore the unfolding of historical moments and the various internal and external components that influenced the outcome of anything from war to the attempts made to bring world governments closer together such as the League of Nations. Beyond the non-fiction documentaries, fictitious shows such as “Band of Brothers” offer a quite historically accurate account of soldiers’ experiences in World War II. Derived from the letters, journals, and interviews of surviving members of the Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, the show gives audiences a first person experience of the tragedies and experiences of war. Allowing people to recognize and learn about the errors of the past will help ensure a better and brighter future and the shows available through satellite television aid in this understanding.
Along with learning about historical events, their motivations, and execution, acquiring an appreciation for what the past has given us today is very important. The show “Modern Marvels” takes a look at the great accomplishments of this day and age and traces their historical roots to see where these wonders evolved from. Examining everything from architecture to weapons design, this show promotes a sense of awe in the viewer as they see the designs of the past that have given rise to the modern luxuries and constructs previously taken for granted. Seeing the design for today’s war weapons date all the way back to the Middle Ages can be mind blowing, especially when considering the rudimentary tools and materials inventors had to work with back then. Only through the creativity and genius of past generations do we enjoy the wonders of technology that surround us today. Developing an awareness of history and the origins from which modern society has grown is important for people to truly appreciate what we have now and to avoid the missteps of our predecessors. The breadth of entertaining and interesting historical knowledge made available to people through satellite television makes this widespread understanding of history a far greater possibility.