Forget Mr. Smith. I think the whole family should go to Washington. Why? Because it is awe-inspiring. By the way, Mr. Smith goes to Washington is an old Hollywood classic (yes, I do watch AMC and TCM in the middle of the night).
If you look beyond the politicking and lobbying that occurs in Washington D.C., and just look at the city itself, I gotta say it is amazing. There is no better way for school-age kids to jump into learning history than to visit the presidential memorials. Standing at the foot of the Thomas Jefferson memorial and reading excerpts from the Declaration of Independence is, unquestionably, inspiring. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men all created equal…” Also, reading the Gettysburg Address out loud, while Abraham Lincoln’s statue smiles serenely near us, is great fun. At the FDR memorial, the depiction of the Great Depression offers many teachable moments about humility. And there is so much more…
Speaking of U.S history, recently, I watched an interview of David McCullough on 60 minutes. Mr. McCullough is a Pulitzer prize-winning historian (by the way, I highly recommend reading his biography of John Adams.) During the interview, he talked about early American thinkers and politicians who shaped the country’s past and present. At one point, he talked about today’s college students saying they lacked fundamental knowledge of U.S. history.
His comments got me thinking, especially since July Fourth is approaching. This holiday is more than backyard barbecues, pool parties, and fireworks. I think Fourth of July is about reminding us (the older generation) to teach our children about our country’s history. Traveling to Washington D.C. is a great way to develop their interest. Watch a group of people protesting in front of the White House and your kids will recognize the true meaning of free speech. Tell me which historical sites (local or national) you have been inspired by and why?