I call them living wormholes - they are a direct link to our past. (This term, incidentally, is not original to me.) If you don't like that term, just consider them as living treasures.
I've blogged about some of these treasured people - for example, my husband's aunt, who is now 103 years old. She was born three months before the Titanic sank. Through her memories (and she is still fully with us mentally) we are linked to our past.
Another example is Harrison Tyler, a grandson of President John Tyler. President Tyler was born in 1790. As of February, 2015, this grandson was still alive and still living on the family homestead.
These people are vitally important to our society, in my view. History is not something dead in a book. It is the story of you, me, and people who were born before us. When they pass, memories are lost forever.
Now, I have become aware of another living wormhole (or treasure, if you will): Nellie Appling Wylie, of Mt. Airy, North Carolina. You may be familiar with Mt. Airy if you ever watched The Andy Griffith Show. Mt. Airy was where Andy Griffith grew up, and Mayberry was based on the Mt. Airy of his childhood.
Ms. Wylie just turned 100. Her father fought in the Civil War, which was fought 150 years ago. How could that be?
Her father was born in April of 1848. He was 19 when the war ended in 1865. She was his last child, born when he was 67 years old. He died in 1937.
Watch the remarkable interview with this treasured woman. Her children are all deceased, but her grandchildren work to preserve her memories.
To think I may have walked in her footsteps in the several times I've visited Mt. Airy thrills me.
She is what historians call "true children" of our Civil War. To them, the Civil War is not some set of dead facts in a boring textbook. It was part of stories told them in their childhood. They knew, and loved, those veterans of the war. And it is good to know they were given places of honor at sesquicentennial commemorations of the war.
There are not too many "true children" of the United States Civil War left. There are, perhaps, 35 (or fewer), most in their 90's or 100's.
By the time we reach the 175th anniversary of the 1861 start of the war, they will all be gone.
Do you have a treasured relative or family friend who is a link to history?