Tag Archives: history

Imagine A History Teacher Making History

“Imagine a history teacher making history.” — Christa McAuliffe

January 28th marks a day when I can remember exactly where I was in 1986.

I was a college student, studying to be a teacher. I was at my apartment, between classes, warming up leftovers for lunch. I was standing in front of the television with a bowl and fork in my hand. I was watching history.

Today’s historic event had special meaning for me. I was studying to be a teacher and a teacher, Christa McAuliffe, the first ever ordinary citizen, would accompany astronauts into space. I also knew one of the finalists. My former government and American History teacher had vied for her very spot. My parents sent me newspaper clippings of his interviews. It was big news in our hometown.

I was in awe of Christa McAuliffe. I knew she was doing something I would never be brave enough to do. Scary. Reckless. Inspiring. Whatever you want to call it, I am grateful for the people who are not as chicken as I am. People who dare to explore and expand horizons and conquer the unknown.

I remember leaving church in the middle of mass when I was a young girl. My mother was crying and my father ushered us out quickly. Later, my mom explained that she was very upset about how the priest was criticizing the US government spending on the space program. It was a popular hot topic in the press. We’d already been to the moon. What was the point with continuing?

But it was new technology in the space program and discoveries in space that trickled down to the medical community. My mom’s father, my grandfather, had a rare nervous disorder. When my mother was a teenager, doctors gave my grandfather only months to live. He defied the odds thanks to modern medical technology. Science from the space program, developed for astronauts, had kept my grandfather alive so that his granddaughter was able to meet him, know him and develop a relationship with him. He, with the combined help of space technology and modern medicine, lived 21 years past his 6 month death sentence.

Today, I will be taking a moment of silence to honor those braver than I.

To honor the pioneers, the explorers, the inventors.

To honor those willing to take great risks so that others may gain greater understanding and knowledge.

To honor history teachers making history.

The Challenger Crew - January 28, 1986

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Filed under Observations, People

Jane Agrees. Give Peace A Chance. Now, Why Can’t We Get Everyone Else On Board?

I just finished watching most of a documentary called “The U.S. vs. John Lennon.” I say “most” because the dvd kept skipping at about 2/3 of the way in so I gave up trying to finish it.

It was fascinating. What I saw of it, anyway. It covered history at a time when I was alive but not very aware.

No, I wasn’t a pothead. I wasn’t tripping on  acid.

I was 3.

As in, years old.

But that period of our history has always fascinated me. So much so, that when I was in high school (wearing tie dye and walking around barefoot and protesting the god-awful hot lunches) my friends would often say I was born in the wrong era.

At various times of my life and for various issues, I have swung both sides of the political spectrum. Sometimes more left, sometimes more right. Usually hovering somewhere in the middle.

I love peace. I want peace. I pray for peace.

Make love, not war.

Wrapping my head around why war is necessary? Very difficult for me.

For ME.

And for some of you.

But not everyone. There are bullies out there. And the self-righteous. People afflicted with severe tunnel vision. And people who will think their way is the only way until the day they die. And they’re even willing to die trying to make you and me think the way they think.

History has taught us that.

I remember a recent discussion with my husband about the wars around the world. In Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and the Mexican drug wars. I said, “If we could just declare peace why can’t the killing just stop? What if we truly did practice the non-violence messages of Ghandi, King and Lennon?” My husband shook his head, “That would mean everyone would have to agree with you. And they won’t. You have to defend yourself. Look where it got the Tibetans.”

All we are saying, is give peace a chance.

A beautiful, amazing, wonderful, glorious message. The problem is, everyone has to be on board. Everyone has to be willing to compromise. And compromise is difficult. Because then no one is happy. Each involved has given up something for the greater good. Leaving the perfect opening, the perfect opportunity for dissent to rear its ugly head and stir up conflict again.

As short-sighted as I believe some peace-loving, political activists can be – their message is perfect, simple and pure. And their efforts to swing everyone their way is difficult but, oh, so admirable.

What saddens me, is how futile their efforts seem 40 years later.

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Filed under Be-Causes, Ponderings

American Mutt Takes A Taste From The Melting Pot And Craves More

Peg, at Square Peg in a Round Hole, tagged me for this exercise. It sounded like fun so I decided to play along. It prompts you to tag 5 other people but I’m going to do a broad sweep and encourage all and any of you to play! (I’m all communist that way!) It was perfect for me since I was suffering a bit of blogger’s block. Even if you’re not suffering blogger’s block you can play and then store the post to use later. Perfect for an easy-peasy post sitting in your stockpiles.

Here are the rules:

  1. Go to your first photo file and pick the 10th photo in it.
  2. Tell the story behind the photo.
  3. Tag 5 other people to do likewise (or everyone because you’re an equal-opportunity blogger like me!)

Now, on with the show!

I am a true American mutt. I am Irish, Scottish, German and Polish. Our families immigrated to America between the mid 1800’s and World War II. All were escaping poverty. All were seeking opportunity.

I know very little about my history. All of my grandparents have passed. My parents and aunts and uncles have little interest in our family tree. But my second cousin, who sent me this picture, is very interested. She has been collecting information and searching for new leads. I’ll be interested in what she finds.

The above picture is from a part of my German side. I say part because I have some family that came in early 1900 and some who escaped during WWII. These are my great-great grandparents. Entrepeneurs. Strong work ethic. Amazing role models for my grandfather who became quite successful in business. Once they arrived here to America, they never worried about money again.

My mother brings the Polish side of my family. Fun-loving. Silly. Family oriented. Funny. I remember family gatherings where aunts and uncles would sit around and tell, of all things, Polish jokes – and crack themselves up at the absurdity. My grandfather would enter a contest in the local paper. A cartoon would be shown and contestants were asked to enter a caption. He won so often they limited his winnings to once a month.

One of my favorite stories on my Scottish side was of my great-great-grandfather. When asked the spelling of his name at Ellis Island he switched it to the Irish spelling because he was angry at the Scottish government. I loved that story and likened my rebellious spirit and political activism to his. Alas, that story was merely a myth. My great-aunt set the record straight at a family reunion. When my newly married great-great grandfather and grandmother arrived they were asked their name. The officer wrote it down with the Irish spelling. To honor my great-great-grandmother (she was Irish), my great-great-grandfather let the switched and omitted letters slide. “Awwww, how romantic, ” we all sighed. So, I’ll liken my feminist spirit to that of his, instead.

I wish I had appreciated the many family gatherings and story telling sessions when I was younger when many of these relatives were still alive. I long to ask questions of how we came here to the United States and how we thrived. There seems to be a generation of disconnect between my grandparents and me and my cousins. I’m thankful my cousin is stirring the pot. The smells from the kitchen have piqued my interest. I’ll let you know what I find.

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Filed under family