Egalité, Liberté, Fraternité: A History Lesson

I am a teacher. I teach kids history, some kids get it and others, will get it later.

We are studying the period in US History right after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution – the first fifty years from President Washington to President Jackson. On Monday morning when my students sat down in class for the new unit, I challenged them to name as many presidents as they could. I gave them ten minutes.

I had taken the same challenge the week before. I got 42 presidents and had 41 of them in chronological order. Give it a whirl and post your number with your comment.

The average for my students was 11. The high was 34 and the low was two. I do not think the ‘2’ tried, the next low was six, which is about right.

Tuesday was my birthday and I modelled the reading and thinking process with my students.

Wednesday was Veterans Day and my students learned the meaning of the day and the inspiration behind the poppy symbol.

all of our poopies together to form a field of poppies....
all of our poopies together to form a field of poppies….

Thursday I continued modelling and gave them homework – finish President Washington and we will review Friday in class.

Yesterday was Friday and in class, we were reviewing George Washington’s second term and the Neutrality Act came up. George Washington was an isolationist and believed in the dangers of political factions and parties. Essentially, he was a Federalist believing in the power of a strong centralized government. Alexander Hamilton Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury and architect of our financial system agreed with Washington. On the other side of the argument were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison – writers of two of our most important documents – the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, respectively. Jefferson and Madison argued against being neutral and siding with France.

Once again, I used music to make my point and I played “Cabinet Battle #2” from Hamilton: An American Musical.

They got it, I think. “…if you don’t know, now you know. Mr. President.….”

Washington listened and issued the Neutrality Act, Britain removed her troops from American soil, but is didn’t solve the problems of the day.

The day wound down, the bell rang, the students went home, and I stayed after school to grade papers, organize my desk and classroom: before packing up and leaving for the weekend.  I noticed a new e-mail message in my inbox – it was a twitter notification about a terrorist attack in Paris. I clicked and listened to the CNN live stream about the events unfolding in Paris.

My heart sank. I texted my wife and packed up and left for the weekend.

When I got home, I flipped on the news and watched the horror continue to unfold across the Atlantic.

B came home and we sat together on the couch and watched the news together remembering our visits to Paris. I tried to figure out where the attacks had taken place and I realized that the hotel where we stayed in June 2010 was not far from the attacks.

I listened to President Obama pledge America’s support and French President Hollande vow retribution for the terror attacks.

Early evening turned into night and I went to bed thinking of the awful situation wondering where it will all end.

This morning I watched the news with my coffee and thought of my last visit to France. I dug deep into my digital photo file finding several photos and posting them on Facebook. I am not alone

Posting photos and updates to social media is not enough.

France is America’s oldest ally. Washington and Hamilton were wrong, when an ally needs help; you stand with them, proud and tall.

Because we are in this together and a terrorist attack is an attack on the values of humanity we share, we all share – egalité, liberté, and fraternité.

“…….If you don’t know, now you know, Mr. President….”

Today is already in full bloom. It is early afternoon and it is already a million six times better than yesterday, but it will be somber and full of reflection. As usual, I have a host of tasks on my list, more than is seemingly possible in the time I have to accomplish it. So, I had better get a move on and make my day count. Making the Days Count, one day a time, one prayer for the people of France, and another prayer for the senseless violence to end.

Merci, what is your prayer today?

Thank you, quel est votre prière aujourd’hui ?

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8 thoughts on “Egalité, Liberté, Fraternité: A History Lesson

  1. Another sad chapter in our history. Such as the world we live in today. Interesting though, the atrocities in Kenya and Beirut get little attention or world support yet so many are being killed there too. It’s happening everywhere now and it makes me wonder if it will ever end.

    Try to have a good week and teach the childen well. It’s a tough world they are growing up in.

  2. It certainly was a sad day for the world. Sensless loss of human life is always a tradegy no matter where it happens. My heart hurts for the people of Paris and for society as a whole.

    And, I took your challenge and came up with 29. Not good enough. I’m going to Disney World next month, I shall visit the Hall of Presidents at least twice and try to memorize more.

    As always, thanks for enlightening us with your thoughts and sharing your photos.

    Have a great week.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. It is sad about Paris, but the French will rebound – the bigger question is will the world come together and stand up and say NO MORE? ZFor some groups – equality, freedom, and brotherhood are foreign concepts and it threatens them. Let Freedom ring.

      29 is good – there are some incredibly forgettable presidents – I couldn’t remember Pierce or Hayes. I used the activity to ask kids how they remembered and ways they stored information, My first question was, how many?, my second was, who was first? then a litany of questions getting to the thinking process….

      have fun at Disney – who’s gonna mind the Baer House while you are in Florida? Still need to figure a way to get down there and visit. Have a wonderful week.

    1. Indeed – I have been to Paris many times, first in 1966 at the age of four and most recently in 2010 to return my dad’s cremains to the country he loved. My dad was worried that something like this might happen and reminded me that Paris was a different place than when he first lived there in ’66 and the early 80s. He returned to the US and moved to Mississippi where he passed away in ’09. Of course, the entire world is a different place under terrorism. Thanks for stopping by – have a wonderful week.

    1. Thank you. I side with Jefferson and Madison – we have a responsibility to support them because they have had our back in the region along with Britain – they share a heritage shared values as well. It’s delicate because I have several Muslim students and I don’t want them vilified for the ideology of a few. Thank you – I can’t pretend it didn’t happen, it did. You’ve given me food for thought. Have a great night.

Thanks for visiting MtDC. How are YOU Making YOUR Days Count?