For all of us who are lucky enough to still enjoy parents, grandparents, cousins, good friendships, ties that bind, and lots of young people around, here are a few suggestions in which we all might dig a bit deeper into our American conscience:
Shopping has always been a great American past time. We are increasingly a nation of consumers. Some of us will find reason to celebrate any holiday, including Memorial Day and Thanksgiving, by including a few stops at our favorite merchants; since we Americans love to buy, gift, and just spend pocket-burning money, it’s an easy choice; but, certainly, not the only one.
Presidents Sales, White Sales, special, early bird shopping hours are difficult to ignore. However, in this economic climate, a Presidents Day shopping spree may be out of the question this time around.
Take a moment to rethink the various choices that all of us have. Presidents Day offers several reasons for respectful celebration, some recognition of its historical roots, and some great conversation.
Libraries and Museums preserve our nation’s heritage and its colorful, action-packed formation.
When was the last time the entire family hopped in the car to take a trip to the local library? Your friendly local librarians would love to suggest picture books, biographies, autobiographies, cook books, and other collections that are age appropriate and expand on the presidential winners and losers in our campaign history. Honest Abe, George Washington, and forty-two presidential office holders are waiting to be rediscovered by entirely new generations! This is an election year; another good reason for our young people to become acquainted with the historical intricacies of our electoral process.
Is there a presidential museum nearby? Or how about visiting a local museum, checking out the immigrants who settled in your countryside? Each state has a people, more than one culture, and many stories to tell. Do you know the names of the local Native American Tribes or the original family surnames that first purchased land in your vicinity?
The American Tale is an all inclusive, panorama of the world’s different peoples building a nation. The Chinese built more than rock walls. The Spanish weren’t the only sailing nation to conquer North American coastlines. The Irish were not the only nationality to flee their homeland; those Jews who could flee Nazi Europe, often with the help of peoples of all faiths, did so. Most ethnicities arrived here hungry for food and opportunity.
Make a special effort to converse, especially at family dinner tables. Encourage your children to talk and learn to visit. Speak to some of the seniors near you; ask them what their parents did and what their grandparents before them risked to make it in America. Practice a verbal storytelling of history as the native peoples of this continent once did.
Look for festivals, special exhibits, and other historical celebrations that touch upon our nation’s melting pot. Don’t wait for a special “month” to read about a group’s history like our fellow Black Americans. Don’t settle for the trite folklore and urban legends. There was more to George Washington than an ax, a cherry tree, and his having suffered through wooden dentures. Read about the choices that he and others made once they decided to fight against the English king; as with any subject, keep it age appropriate. But touch upon it at least once this spring.
We might just learn how to converse once again, and find a bit of commonality in all of us…