Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Utah Homemakers for America

About a year ago, I was asked to join an organization called, "Utah Homemakers for America".  I don't join organizations lightly.  Besides being a member of my church, and the local PTA, this is the only other organization I have joined.  I researched it a lot (from their national web-site) and mostly was impressed with the Abigail Adams Project, and so I joined.  Recently, I was contacted about being a guest author for the Utah chapter's newsletter.  So, for those of you who are curious, here is the article I wrote:

America 101 by Guest Writer Janice

I recently got back from a family reunion vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  The vacation was to be one of daily beach outings and not much else.  I was thrilled to escape “real life” for a week and planned to do not much more then eat some yummy sea food, watch my kids play in the sand and read some fluff novels I had purchased for the trip.  

We flew into Raleigh, NC and then rented a car to drive the four hours required to get to the Outer Banks.  Before the trip, I didn’t even look at a map because my husband does the driving while I manage the kids.  There are always noses to be wiped, drinks to be passed around and songs to be sung to help pass the time.  Foolishly, I hadn’t even done any research about the area.  I was beach bound and that is all I thought about.

During the drive, I heard our GPS say something about Roanoke Island.  What?  Are we going to drive across Roanoke Island, the island of the first colony of Europeans in the New World?  This was the famous island where John White left from to return to  England to get supplies and when he came back, after a delay of three years, found the colony gone with only the word “Croatoan” carved in the bark of a tree.  I felt my heart race.  My excitement grew and I immediately started telling my family about this major event in American history.  I looked at my husband and said, “We are in history central.  This is America 101.  This is colonizing, founding fathers, and America at its roots.”  I immediately got out my iphone and started researching.

We drove across another bridge and onto Hatteras Island.  The famous Cape Hatteras lighthouse could be seen in the distance. Not only is this the tallest lighthouse in the nation but for over 100 years it sent a beacon of light out to ships to help them navigate the treacherous Diamond Shoals.  

We picked up the keys to our beach house and were told about the Lifesaving Stations on the island.  Lifesaving Stations were the precursors to the Coast Guard.  Along all of the coasts of the United States, Lifesaving Stations were established to rescue ships in distress along our borders.  Groups of tough, skilled men lived on isolated coasts and patrolled and watched for ships in need and at the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station on Hatteras island, saved over 99 percent of the lives on those ships.  

At one point in the week, we drove to Kill Devil Hills, near Kitty Hawk and went to the Wright Brothers National Memorial and learned all about the amazing birth of powered controlled flight.  My kids became Junior Park Rangers after attending two different classes and walking all over the national memorial set up there in honor of these two amazing men.  A week that was meant to be “relaxing on the beach” turned into an American historical adventure for our family with me giving nightly reports to my family about the things I had learned in this little part of the country and having my children tell me what they had learned from our trip.

As I was on our airplane flying home, this time more in awe of it because of my experience at the Wright Brothers National Monument, I thought about where I currently live, the state of Utah.  I am surrounded by American history and I am obligated to pass this knowledge onto my children. No, it is not 1580s or even 1776 history but it is American history none the less.  Utah is a state founded by people who came here for religious freedom.  In a country that was founded on that principle, they had to leave its borders, set up their own colony and only later be admitted in as a state.  This American history is fact and is just as important for my children to know about as the first colonies,  the birth of flight, or the history of the Coast Guard.  Utah is also where the Transcontinental Railroad had its last spike driven into the ground where finally, east and west coasts were connected and we were made one as a nation through the miracle of Industrialism.  I can explain to my children how government bonds paid for it and how the railroad helped the economy in the west and made traveling across the United States go from six months to just one week--and how science, politics and the economy are all interconnected.  I can take them downtown and show them the City Creek construction project.  I can explain that this is currently the largest construction project in the country and that it is keeping many people in jobs, paying their bills and helping our local and national economy.  I can tell them about how our mayor, at the time this project was announced, fought against the church that was paying for it but at the same time, praised them for helping improve “his” city.  My children need to know how people can praise and destroy freedom at the same time. 

As a mother, I spend most of my days teaching my children about life--from the basics of hygiene, to reading, to Christian principles such as the Golden Rule.  I now realize the importance of taking the time to teach them about this nation.  So, I challenge everyone to gather your children, take them to our local sites, teach them about American history (both old and relatively new) and plant the seeds of passion for this country and its history in their hearts. Let them see both the good and bad and teach them the values of history in our modern world.  The people before us have left us their lessons.  It is our duty to pass them onto our children.   


Paige said...

Wow! Can I just have you teach my children about history instead of me? You seem to know so much more about it than I do.

Great post!

Michelle said...

What a great article, Janice. I love your idea of tapping into our own history in the modern day.