In honor of Independence Day, I read the Gettysburg Address to my nieces and nephew. My wife and I visited them in Virginia. Each year, I read the Address to myself. This year, I shared it with them.
Between playing catch, doing wheelies on my five year-old nephew's scooter and digging for buried treasure (we found a rock), I caught them taking an interest in my Blackberry. I seized my chance and downloaded the speech off of Google. With them seated around me, I read the speech. It pleased me to see their rapt attention. I then rounded off reading the speech by telling them how the photographer at Gettysburg dedication got lazy and managed to take a picture of the president sitting down after delivering the Address. They laughed. I tried to keep it entertaining.
When I finished, I asked them what they thought of it. My eleven year-old niece Priyanka said that it was about how America is about equality and peace. Priya, my nine year-old niece, agreed. I was just happy that their eyes didn't glaze over from boredom.
I think it is very important to introduce children to the Civil War and American history at an early age. You have to get to them before the teenage years claim them. For us Civil War buffs, this is an important responsibility because our school system is so atrocious. Students come out of high school not knowing when the Civil War occurred. I remember going to a movie theater and overhearing an Ivy League-bound high school senior asking when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred.
We have to take matters into our own hands. We have to teach the children in our families.
What about you out there? How have you tried to spread the knowledge to the children in your family?
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry