Send by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (no attached files, please, which can contain viruses); fax to 770-532-0457; mail to The Times, P.O. Box 838, Gainesville, GA 30503; or click here for a form. Include full name, hometown and phone number for confirmation. They should be limited to one topic on issues of public interest and may be edited for content and length (limit of 500 words). Letters originating from other sources, those involving personal, business or legal disputes, poetry, expressions of faith or memorial tributes may be rejected. You may be limited to one letter per month, two on a single topic. Submitted items may be published in print, electronic or other forms. Letters, columns and cartoons express the opinions of the authors and not of The Times editorial board.
Worn edges and the appearance of the chest led me to believe that it was really old. As the lid opened, the faintest musty odor heightened my anticipation.
For years, my grandmother had protected and saved these family treasures. I wondered what our family treasures could be. My eyes quickly scanned the contents hoping to find a treasure of incalculable worth. Silver, gold, diamonds or rubies were certainly acceptable, but I found so much more.
A letter with a 1918 postmark caught my eye. I had never seen an actual letter that old. It was from a great uncle that I didn't even know existed. He had served our country in World War I, but regrettable fate had not returned him home. My grandmother explained that it was the last letter that we had received from him.
With the deepest respect, I read the words penned so long ago. To this day, I remember his description of an airplane. It seemed plausible that he had never seen an airplane before. I felt a connection to his sense of awe, his sense of wonder and amazement. It must have been an incredible world when mankind took to the skies for the first time.
The written work brings the past alive. In the oldest and most impressive structures in Egypt, workmen left their names in secluded spots. They are not just faceless enigmas from the distant past. We can imagine what their lives were like. We can feel their pride. They signed their work.
All over the world, new discoveries are constantly bringing a new understanding of who we are. There is a connection to the past because of the written word.
Today, we have all sorts of electronic communication options. Our words fly around the planet approaching the theoretical limits to science and technology. An e-mail arrives from a friend in another state. We read it and delete it. A text message from a relative arrives. We read it and delete it.
The constant updating supersedes the prior moment. At the end of the day, we have little to nothing left of our daily communications. That's the same thing we have from prehistoric times: no record. Our technology seems to be erasing us from history.
I have vinyl records, but I don't have a convenient way to play them. I have seen eight-track tapes but I don't know anyone who has a player. I have cassette tapes, and my vehicle only uses CDs. I have several VCR tapes and technology is making them obsolete. Even if I have material recorded, I need to have the equipment to play or use it.
That's not true of the written word. The written word perseveres in the absence of technology. Sure, technology is fast. A letter is slower, but it is our stamp of forever.
Mickey F. Maddox