Remembering

In Canada, November 11 is the day we celebrate Remembrance Day. It’s the day we honour our war veterans and those still fighting in wars. It’s a solemn day of reflection.

Their great-great-grandfathers memorial – Remembrance Day 2016

It’s important to take note of past events, of historical memories, of horrible atrocities and terrible actions. It is only in remembering the devastation they caused that we will find healing and pursue a different path. We need to view current events with an eye to historical events in order to make better choices for our future. We, as homeschoolers, must not ignore the difficult portions of history, the ones that make our country look bad, or the ones that make our hearts cringe. We must face these difficult topics head on, explore them fully with our children, and help them to critically think through the cause and effect of history and current events.

We make a big deal out of Remembrance Day in our home. My great-grandfather is buried near Flanders Field, and my grandfather fought in WWII. I firmly believe that by teaching my sons the history of war, they can learn to critically think through current political issues. I believe that by teaching our children even our most horrible history, we are taking a step towards preventing it from being repeated.

But, theΒ  most horrible history is not always war. It is not always political. Sometimes, it is personal. The war between good and evil is just as real and needs to be told just as much as political history. We must speak of the hard topics.

Along with remembering those who have served and died in war on Remembrance Day, my family also remembers those who have lost the fight against evil. Remembrance Day falls between the birthdays of my siblings, both of whom are deceased. My brother died by suicide. My children know this family history. We discuss it regularly for a couple reasons: 1) so they can know a bit of who their aunt and uncle were; and 2) because they need to know suicide is not an option, that there are better choices.

Speaking of suicide has not opened the door to the option for my boys. Rather, it has opened the door to the conversation. With an ongoing discussion about the hard topics, I hope they can critically think through depressive periods in their lives and make a different choice than my brother did. I know they will experience depressive periods. Varying levels of depression can and do attack every person; no one escapes. We must open the door to these tough topics before they are relevant for our children.

Before another political leader tries to take over the world like Hitler during the time my grandfather fought in WWII, we must recognize the warning signs and say “no.” We must not allow it to happen again.

Before we lose more children to suicide, we must open the conversation, recognize the warning signs, and say “no, this is not an option.” We must not allow it to happen again.

Please open the conversation with your children. It’s tough, but it’s important.

Virtual Field Trip: Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Hi, Boys and Girls!

Today I would like to take you on a very special virtual field trip. See, I know you like it when I share really cool places with you…so this month I’ve really gone all out in order to bring you the oldest American history possible. That’s right, today we’re visiting the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine, Florida!

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For those of you who don’t know, St. Augustine is the oldest town in the U.S. The town was founded by Spanish colonists way back in 1565, and just over 100 years later construction began on the Castillo, now the oldest stone fort in America. I was so excited that my parents had agreed to stop by St. Augustine while we were on a family vacation driving from my grandparents to my aunt and uncle’s home. I had been to other forts before, but it was really cool to realize that I was visiting the oldest stone fort in America, in the oldest town in America! Here are some pictures.

It is fun to walk into the fort and see how big and powerful the fort is. Nothing is going to move it! Inside, there are lots of different rooms to explore. Some rooms have pictures and signs explaining the history. Others have some food. (Or maybe it’s fake food. I’m not sure!) The ranger there was telling us all about how the soldiers lived and worked and ate at the fort. My sister and I really enjoyed listening to him.

I enjoyed spending time in the courtyard, the inside center part of the fort. I also got to see what a typical soldier’s bed looked like (see above pictures). Hmmm, I think I like mine at home better!

A total of four nations have owned the Castillo de San Marcos at one point or other: Spain, Britain, the Confederacy during the Civil War, and of course the USA. When we were at the fort, the rangers were dressed up as Spanish soldiers. It was really fun getting to see them in costume and demonstrating how a cannon works. It was loud, but really cool!

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Well, I hope you have enjoyed this virtual field trip to Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine, Florida. I had read about St. Augustine in history books for years, and it was so fun to visit there in real life and experience it firsthand. I hope you have enjoyed my pictures as well! If you would like to experience even more of the Castillo from the comfort of your home, feel free to watch my two videos below. One is a tour of the fort, and the other is of the cannon demonstration that we attended.

Until next time, keep having “a blast with the past!”

~Austin

Virtual Field Trip: Greenfield Village, Part 8

Hey, boys and girls! Are you ready for another virtual field trip? I sure am! Today I would like to share with you one last post of my trips to Greenfield Village, an awesome outdoor history museum in Detroit, Michigan. If you remember from last month, I shared with you some homes of famous Americans such as Robert Frost and Noah Webster. Now let’s visit some more old homes!

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This is the Susquehanna Plantation, a home from Maryland that was built in the 1830s. This was before the Civil War happened and slavery, as we typically think of it, ended. The owners had a very nice life, but the slaves they owned (and beat for not working constantly from sunrise to sundown) certainly did not. There were no modern-day dishwashers or laundry machines back then, not even running water in the kitchens! The slaves had to do it all.

Here are some slave quarters (albeit very nice slave quarters) from another plantation, in Georgia. The master who built these quarters was not trying to be nice to his slaves, but, from a business view, the healthier slaves were the harder they worked. And, he definitely wanted that!

The next several pictures are of the Mattox family home, from rural Georgia. They were not a particularly well-known family, but it was still very interesting to see how they lived. This home was built about 15 years after the Civil War, in 1880.

Most of Greenfield Village centers on history of the 1800s and 1900s, but there are a few homes that reach back farther in time! Below are photos of the Daggart Farmhouse, built in 1754 in Connecticut. Nearby in the Village is the oldest windmill in the United States, as well as the Plympton family home (the red one). It is the oldest home in Greenfield Village; the brick on the fireplace inside dates from 1640! It was so much fun to see all of these homes, too β€” especially to learn how life was different back then, but also much the same.

Finally, I would like to share with you one last building from Greenfield Village. This is the Logan County Courthouse from Illinois, and is one of the actual courthouses that Abraham Lincoln practiced law in! One trivia fact that I find particularly interesting is about the wooden cabinet in the corner. It was handcrafted by Abraham and his sister, Sarah, when they were just children. I thought that was pretty cool!

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Well, believe it or not, after eight months we have finished exploring Greenfield Village together! I hope you have enjoyed these posts and seeing history come alive, whether through these words and pictures or even more so through my videos. Below I have included links to my videos of the homes I have shared about in this post, if you are interested in watching them.

See you next month!

~Austin

Virtual Field Trip: Greenfield Village, Part 7

Hi Boys and Girls! Have you been enjoying this series of articles on Greenfield Village? I sure hope so! It is so much fun to visit in person, and then to tell you all about the history there as well. Today I would like to share with you the final area of Greenfield Village, Porches and Parlors. That’s just a fancy way of saying, “Here’s a collection of cool old homes!” So buckle your seatbelts, pack your excitement, and let’s head home!

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Have you ever used a dictionary to look up a hard to pronounce word? Most likely it had the word “Webster” on it, because Mr. Noah Webster was the man who wrote the first American dictionary. And you guessed it, Greenfield Village has Webster’s home! It is one of my favorite homes to walk through at Greenfield Village – not just because of the history (this is the very home where he wrote the dictionary), but also because it has air conditioning! Being cool on a hot day is very important. Here are some pictures of Webster’s home!

And here are a few pictures of Webster’s study, where he wrote the dictionary.

Another cool home in Greenfield Village is the one of Robert Frost. Have you ever studied about him in school? He was a very famous American poet.

Another famous figure of American history is William Holmes McGuffey. You may remember that he created some very successful schoolbooks for children back in the 1800’s. You guessed it – Greenfield Village has McGuffey’s birthplace home, as well as a replica schoolhouse from that time period. Here’s some pictures of those structures!

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Well, I hope you have enjoyed this latest post on Greenfield Village! It is such a fun place to visit, and then to share the experience with you all makes the experience even more fun! If you would like to see my videos of the homes I featured in this article, check them out below. Next month I’ll finish up my series on Greenfield Village by sharing a few more historic homes!

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Until next time, study hard and have a blast with the past!

~Austin

Virtual Field Trip: Greenfield Village, Part 6

Hi, Boys and Girls! Are you ready to go on another virtual field trip? I sure am! I am excited to share with you more of Greenfield Village, a really cool outdoor history museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Have you ever seen a train before? Today I’m going to focus on the train ride, roundhouse, and Smith’s Creek station at Greenfield Village.

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The roundhouse here was originally built elsewhere in Michigan, but the remains were brought to Greenfield Village in 2000 and refurbished to the truly beautiful structure that exists today. It is one of only seven working roundhouses in the U.S.!

This is where all the work and repair on the steam engines is done. Plus, it’s where the engines go to “sleep” at night. Basically, it’s like a garage, but for trains. It is really fun to walk through it and see all the trains.

Below are some pictures of what was Henry Ford’s personal favorite engine, which he had restored.

You can even walk right underneath it!

There is also a fun painting on the wall, with a working wheel, that helps kids understand how the steam engine works. As kids turn the wheel, lights light up and show what exactly is going on.

You can even find a grandfather around the roundhouse every now and then! πŸ˜‰

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Nearby to the roundhouse is the Smith’s Creek train station. This is the actual station that young Thomas Edison once worked out of. For a part-time job he sold newspapers on the trains. Because he liked to experiment, he begged the train conductor to let him have one baggage car just for his experiments. Everything went well until the car caught fire, and the conductor threw Edison off at this very Smith’s Creek station! But, besides that tidbit of history, it is just neat to see inside an 1860s train station. It was a real center of activity for the community, and served as both home and office for the stationmaster and his family.

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One of my favorite parts of the Village is the steam train ride. Smith’s Creek is one of the three stations where you can board. Here are some pictures of the train for you to enjoy!

The conductor and fireman checking to make sure everything is good to go!

Toot, toot!

 

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…And back at the station!

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I hope that you have enjoyed this post! It really is so much fun to see history come alive at places such as Greenfield Village, and experience in real life what you would otherwise just have to imagine. Of course, while words and pictures do a decent job of getting the point across, there is still a lot left out β€” like sound! And, one of my favorite parts of riding a steam train is the sounds. So, this month I have included not only my videos of the roundhouse and Smith’s Creek station (you’ll get the tour spiel from the trained interpreters rather than having to put up with me), but also my train ride video. I hope you enjoy the sights and sounds! πŸ™‚

Until next month, keep having a blast with the past!

~Austin