History allows us to bear witness to the past.
It is nothing short of amazing that whole kingdoms and empires rose and collapsed, that people lived and died for their ideals, and yet few people today know anything about them. It is amazing because history has amazing stories to tell, lessons to teach, and those people were and are important even if they are not remembered. They helped shape our culture and manners, how we view one another, our morals too.
Some say that those that do not know history are doomed to repeat it. Perhaps that is true. But some things need repeating, and knowledge of history is needed for that as well. Several aspects of our current situation and culture are far from ideal. The past may or may not have a better alternative, but studying the past also illuminates why and how we arrived in our current situation, warts and all.
In the war of nature vs. nurture, it seems that nurture comes out the victor. Many behaviors, behaviors that may seem instinctual, come from lessons and decisions that stem from the past.
History is more than what king invades what country. It is more than wars and the lives of the rich and powerful. It is alive and shapes our current struggles and lives, from the homeless child to the gas station attendant to the unemployed mother to the computer programmer tinkering in her garage. History is embracing, not limiting, and through its study, many of the confusing aspects of our day-to-day make a little more sense and perhaps seem a little more open to improvement.