New York Times columnist Timothy Egan addressed the Honors Convocation at Texas Christian University on April 19, where Phi Beta Kappa inductees were recognized.
“Nations, like families, need shared stories,” Egan said. And he had some stories to share from America’s Great Depression and the Dust Bowl that closed the gap between survivors of those hard years and students in the audience who have their own futures to consider in an America still struggling to recover from the recession of the last decade.
New ΦBKs, like all recent graduates, worry about what the future holds for them, especially during tough economic times. Egan’s lecture, “From Worst Hard Time to Best Days: An Appreciation of American Tumult,” shows how a history lesson can help to change our perspective on the present, and the future.
“Timothy Egan shared great insights in an accessible way at the Honors Convocation and recognition of Phi Beta Kappa initiates at TCU,” said Pearce Edwards, a junior majoring in political science and history and one of ΦBK’s new initiates.
“He encouraged us to think more readily about the intimate interconnection of history and the memories of those who lived through it in the context of the Dust Bowl and World War II,” Edwards added. “Speaking on April 19, he connected the events of the day over time — such as the 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings with the resilience and values the American people showed in response. His friendliness, openness, and wit was befitting a prize-winning journalist and a documentarian of our common historical narrative.”
For a text version of the lecture, click here (PDF).
Timothy Egan worked for The Times for 18 years – as Pacific Northwest correspondent and a national enterprise reporter. In 2001, he was part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that wrote the series How Race Is Lived in America. He is the author of several books, including The Worst Hard Time, a history of the Dust Bowl, for which he won the National Book Award, and most recently, The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America.
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