Why Preserving our Shared Heritage Matters

Indiana Jones saw the importance of history

Hawaii Army Weekly, February 5, 2016

Story and photos by Chaplain (Maj.) John Grauer
Plans and Operations
U.S. Army Garrison – Hawaii



Indiana Jones, the fictional adventurer/archeologist, searches for valuable artifacts of great historical significance, giving us a glimmer of his character as one who seeks great historical antiquities.

Like the fictional Indiana Jones, Austin Henry Layard has been seen

Austin Henry Layard

Austin Henry Layard

by many historians to be the person who led to the historical discovery of the ancient city of Nimrud in the 1840s.

The story of its discovery was one of great historical significance. It brought to us the reality of connecting the past with the future and what it means for us when we forget our historical roots to past civilizations that are lost to us.

Have you ever misplaced a cell phone? We all have. I can guess what happened: You panicked! You retraced your steps, turned your residence upside down until you found your phone and then you were relieved.

But what happens when you lose something and don’t find it? What happens when something that you cherish is lost?

While surfing near Haleiwa, I was hit by a wave and knocked around. My wedding ring slipped off my finger, fell into the water and slowly disappeared. It was gone! It was gone forever!

Historical Church Mosul

Historical Church Mosul

A few weeks ago, I was angered at the news of an ancient church in Iraq that was destroyed. I remember that church. I walked through this ancient place, and many other places of great historical importance, like the ruins of Nimrud, set during the time of Assyrian King (883 to 859 BC).

North Western Palace Nimrud Ruins

North Western Palace Nimrud Ruins

In times of war and conflict, cultural identity and cultural heritage become very important. Buildings, monuments and symbols of culture speak of shared roots and values, and they acquire an increased significance to each of us, as we try and understand what faith means in our lives.

So, when these building and monuments are destroyed and become targets of violent and oppressive actions or regimes that seek to destroy the symbols associated with faiths and traditions, it becomes an unbearable tragedy.

For the people that live through conflict on a daily basis, their ability to simply survive is tested. The things we take for granted are hard to come by, and the only thing left is memories of a better time and a better day. So what?


Here is the so what: I am greatly saddened by the loss of my ring. It contains memories of more than 20 years, and it contains my hopes and joys. It has significance that can never be replaced.

Yes, we replaced the ring. It is a reminder of a promise I made to my spouse, but it’s still not quite the same.

When Iraq and the world lost significant cultural places this year, we lost more than a building. We lost the significance of what made us who we are. When we lose a historical Christian building, Yezidi Temple, or the ruins of past civilizations, we are much the poorer.

Civilizations and cultures have sought hard to protect and preserve their heritage. The reasons are simple, ranging from education to historical, and to reinforce a sense of identity. Indiana Jones saw the value of history and its significance of meaning for the next generations.


To lose something of value is difficult. We take for granted that our home, that our “things” of value, will always be there. When it’s gone, destroyed by a tragic event, what are we left with?

Memories. Our memories can never be taken from us. There is always something that can give us hope and faith. Hope can never be vanquished.

Losing a ring is not the end of the world because there is always hope and faith.

“There is hope that can never be conquered by fear, a peace that the world cannot give, a trust that is steadfast and cannot be moved. Our love may be tested, but we can rest on God’s provision and we can rest on thee.”

— Excerpt from an old hymn