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VOL. 132 | NO. 24 | Thursday, February 2, 2017


Lance Wiedower

Never Too Young For History Travel

BY LANCE WIEDOWER, Special to The Daily News

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My son brought home a bad grade on a social studies test today.

He’s 10 and in the fourth grade. It’s probably not that big of a deal, but when I looked closer and realized it was about the French and Indian War, I was irritated. Actually, I was pretty ticked.

I was the child who read everything I could about American history, who aced all social studies and history classes and who had a double major in history and journalism in college.

So we sat down tonight and began studying the basics of what led to America’s independence, and it made me realize now might be a good time to begin traveling for American history lessons.

Our son was 5 when he toured the D-Day beaches of Normandy, France. After visiting the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, his only response was that he didn’t want to be a solider for Halloween. I’d say he probably didn’t get the big picture of what happened there on June 6, 1944.

We took him to New York a few years ago. We didn’t visit the 9/11 memorial. Maybe I didn’t want to explain that horrific day to a 7-year-old. I honestly don’t remember. I visited the site when it still had cleanup crews removing rubble out of the hole. Maybe I’m not ready.

My wife and I are the parents of one child. There isn’t a guidebook that shows us how to do things. So I’m not really sure when is the appropriate age to visit certain historic sites and have proper understanding. But maybe it’s time to consider historical sites. Boston’s Freedom Trail probably makes a lot of sense.

As I sat there tonight trying to recall if Paul Revere signaled “one if by sea, two if by land” or the other way around, I remembered the day nearly 14 years ago when we visited Boston’s Old North Church where that moment took place as well as the battlefield in nearby Lexington where the Redcoats eventually met with the Patriots.

And as we discussed what it meant for the colonists to say “no taxation without representation,” I found myself thinking about visiting the beautiful Capitol building and standing in the long line to get into the White House, way back before 9/11 made getting into those important living monuments more difficult.

I think it’s time for our son to visit Boston or Washington, but there are a few history lessons closer to home, too. Several presidential libraries are a weekend trip away. A Civil War lesson is at Shiloh National Military Park just over an hour to the east, not to mention the significance of the National Civil Rights Museum in our own backyard.

History is all around us. It might be a good time to visit some of it.

Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.

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