Have you seen this show? http://www.nbc.com/who-do-you-think-you-are/ They follow celebrities as they do genealogy and trace their families back to interesting stories. They get a lot of help along the way-I would do a lot more if someone else found all the good documents and put all the pieces together for me. The result, though, is always moving and they learn something about themselves.
My mother's cousin was able to trace my grandmother's line back to the Mayflower!! This was huge to a girl who goes to Plimoth Plantationhttp://www.plimoth.org/, where they do reenactments of the Pilgrim village circa 1627 every year the day before Thanksgiving. (When I was at college in Utah, I even flew home for this event).
This year on our annual 'pilgrimage'-pun fully intended-we walked into the home of Stephen Hopkins, the Mayflower passenger I can be traced to, and he was telling the story of how he met his wife. Very cool.
This show is important for a myriad of reasons. I especially like that it helps people think about their roots in a deeper way. How many times have you been part of a conversation about what nationality you are? I'm guessing many, as most of us have. This might be super relevant if you are a first generation immigrant but I find it an odd combination of amusing and frustrating that some people say "I'm Irish" when you don't know who or when in your family anyone ever actually lived in Ireland. I say this from first hand experience. With my name, complexion, and a dad who resembles a leprechaun, it felt easy to claim Irish roots but I don't have the proof to back it up. I stopped claiming that years ago when this all dawned on me.
I still have a lot of work to do on the other side of my family to figure out where we come from. Adoptions and family secrets have made that work difficult to get back even a couple generations but I will feel like a full fledged detective when I dig up the documents that tell me something that my family never could.
It also just recently occurred to me how cool my future child's pedigree will be. On one side, he/she/it will be able to go back to the original colonies of this country. On the other side, there will be Hubby, who is the first child in his family to be born in the USA. If Bruce Springsteen lyrics didn't just pop into your head, you need to go stare at the flag while eating some apple pie and try again.