It has no present, only the past rushing into the future.
To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.
-- John F. Kennedy
Even though you cannot hold onto history, it's still a duty to try and capture it, however fleetingly. If we do not attempt to look back and understand it, then won't we continue to make the same mistakes? I know that's a horrible old cliche, but that doesn't make it less true.
For example, I work in a museum for the Anasazi, a Native American group long gone. We have no firsthand accounts of their lives, only the archaeological record. The whole point of the museum is to keep some sort of tenuous grasp on history, lest the history of an entire civilization be swept away and forgotten forever. There isn't really a present, in the context of the Anasazi - only the past, which we study and try to uncover, and the future, for whom we are preserving records of this past. I can't say that the here and now really enters into it beyond educating the public to look back and recall.