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CASHS junior repeats history

January 11, 2009|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." George Santayana

"History is the science of what never happens twice." Paul Valery

Whichever of these contradictory sayings one subscribes to, history is a part of everyone's life and it is being made every day.

Small chapters of it have been written in Franklin County, Pa., and some of it is on display at the Heritage Center, 100 Lincoln Way East.

"I like American history, especially the Revolutionary War period, but I also have an interest in European history," said Becky McCarty, 17, a junior at Chambersburg Area Senior High School and a "heritage ambassador" at the center. "I find American history is easier to grasp. ... We live it."

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"I'm thinking about being a history major and working in a museum," Becky said. "This seemed like a good way to get some experience."

Becky is the youngest of the center's ambassadors, volunteering a few days a month, usually after school. The others are mostly retirees who have lived through much more history than she has, but her interest is no less deep.

"I've always had an interest in how people live their lives ... how something that happened 100 years ago can still impact our lives," Becky said.

The center is one place to discover how people of this area lived their lives over the past three centuries, from frontier life through the Underground Railroad and Civil War, and the impact of railroads and industrial development.

"I had previously taken a Pennsylvania history course and that gave me a general understanding" of the exhibits, she said.

"My personal favorite is the vault back here. It has a lot of artifacts, photos and documents, and they added a Ben Franklin doll," Becky said.

The Heritage Center was originally a bank and the massive vault is a repository for some of its collection, including a Barbie-sized collectible of the county's namesake.

She also showed off an insurance certificate related to the burning of Chambersburg by Confederate raiders during the Civil War.

The daughter of Rick and Diane McCarty, Becky said that, as a young girl, she dreamed of being an Egyptologist and working in a museum in Cairo or London. When she graduates from high school, she wants to do some traveling, perhaps to Ireland.

Studying abroad is also not out of the question for Becky, who said she performed well in Le Grand Concours, the National French contest of the American Association of Teachers of French.

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