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Teaching Kids History

by Alan Greendale

Today my children Alan 12, Jake 11, Riley 5 and I took part in a ceremony marking the 70th year after the attack on Pearl Harbor. We stood in the rain and talked to seven World War II veterans. I read FDR’s Pearl Harbor Speech to the American people. We watched a wreath laying and a flag rising.

I watched my little daughter talk to the veterans, whose faces lit up at being the object of this girl’s interest. It occurred to me how amazing talking to these men will be for Riley when she thinks back on this day. It would the equivalent of me talking to a Rough Rider from the Spanish-American War when I was her age.

I took time to explain the significance of the day to them. I explained how 409,000 American’s were killed during the war. I taught them that World War II made America the leading super power on the planet, and how it lead to all the wars since. Many wars and many more lives lost. Seems pretty important to me. I don’t understand why we teach our kids about the Aztecs but not something this big.

Our old veterans are dying off. Why are we not using them as a living history? Why don't we honor them by inviting them to tell their stories to a classroom? It is the least we can do for them. To let them know we care about what they went through for us. I believe that we are missing out on something important. It is right there for us.

Are people afraid that if their child talks to a soldier, he might want to become one. That could be true, but it could work the other way. One of the veterans said of his service sixty six years ago, “I saw some horrible things,” and I am sure he still sees these horrors at night. We need to teach our kids some important history. Some relevant history. Before these wonderful men are all gone.  “Those of us, who don’t know our history, are doomed to repeat it.”

Comments (1)

Alan great vignette. We are sure the day will remain a positive feeling all their lives. There are some school systems that incorporate local history with outstanding world events such as Pearl Harbor war endings etc..

Bill Stickney | 2011-12-10 11:39:07