Destroying Not Only Our History but Our Stories

 

The Left has been relentless in its efforts to distort, remove and delegitimize the history of our country. The damage to our children and to our nation is incalculable. But I realized that losing our history for future generations is much more than removing the tales of battles, founding documents, and the contributions of our Founders.

We are losing our stories and the significant role they can play in our personal lives.

When we study our history, we learn so much more than facts and figures. When we look at the Founders, we learn not only about George Washington’s bravery, but also his modesty, even his insecurity, about his lack of formal education. We come to understand the enormous barriers that Abraham Lincoln encountered that he was prepared to overcome through his commitment to his own education and accomplishments, his bouts with depression, and living with a troubled wife. Ulysses S. Grant was not only a great general, but he suffered greatly in his witnessing of those who died on both sides of the war, the Union and the South.

History is not just made of events: it is a reflection of the men and women who were exceptional and flawed human beings, people who became famous and sometimes infamous through the lives they lived. More than those truths, each of us has the opportunity to put ourselves in the shoes of these people, during the times when they lived, with all the limitations they had to suffer.

What was it like to be Abigail Adams who had to maintain the farm while John Adams was away serving this country? How well would we endure the choices men had to make to join the Union or Confederate Armies, tearing families apart?

People attack the history of the United States, insisting on focusing on our poor choices and refusing to appreciate the unique efforts to create a democratic republic, the only one on the face of the earth; this is a bigoted, deceitful, hateful, and destructive effort that hurts the very country that was established and that allows them to pursue their efforts. They don’t understand that valid history education doesn’t try to deify its Founders but demonstrate how they rose above their limitations. They don’t realize that the accomplishments of the leaders of the past were laudable because of all the barriers they encountered and overcame, personal and professional.

Each of us has a chance to identify with the efforts and attributes of these people. We can try to imagine riding for days through snowstorms on a horse to attend a meeting of Congress. We can imagine the work of Frederick Douglass, who escaped slavery and became a symbol of black freedom. These people, flawed and ambitious, are role models to all of us and connect us to U.S. history in an intimate and intriguing way.

*     *     *     *

I was reminded recently of a very poignant and powerful exchange that mattered to me. George Washington had sent a letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode, Island. His letter included these touching words:

May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

I had somehow missed the fact that the congregation had sent a letter first to the President, with these words of gratitude and prayer:

Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People — a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance — but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: — deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language equal parts of the great governmental Machine: — This so ample and extensive Federal Union whose basis is Philanthropy, Mutual confidence and Public Virtue, we cannot but acknowledge to be the work of the Great God, who ruleth in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth, doing whatever seemeth him good.

For all these Blessings of civil and religious liberty which we enjoy under an equal benign administration, we desire to send up our thanks to the Ancient of Days, the great preserver of Men — beseeching him, that the Angel who conducted our forefathers through the wilderness into the promised Land, may graciously conduct you through all the difficulties and dangers of this mortal life: — And, when, like Joshua full of days and full of honour, you are gathered to your Fathers, may you be admitted into the Heavenly Paradise to partake of the water of life, and the tree of immortality.

As a Jew, an American citizen, and a lover of history, I identify with and appreciate this gracious exchange.

Finally, there is this observation by the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks:

G-d never commanded us: Thou shall win a Nobel Prize. What he wanted us to teach our children was a story. He wanted us to help our children understand who they are, where they came from, what happened to their ancestors to make them the distinctive people they became, and what moments in their history shaped their lives and dreams.

Although Rabbi Sacks was addressing the Jewish people, I believe his words apply to all humanity.

May we all live to see the restoration of our remarkable history and its leaders.

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  1. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Bravo!, Susan, Bravo!  What you have written needs to be a full chapter in high school history books. 

    • #1
  2. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Bravo!, Susan, Bravo! What you have written needs to be a full chapter in high school history books.

    Agree 100%.  

    • #2
  3. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Very, very good point. Instead of the wonder that should be part of childhood, our children are taught contempt. Contempt for their families, their history, their country, and if they’re white males, for themselves. And we wonder why they commit suicide and overdose on drugs.

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Very, very good point. Instead of the wonder that should be part of childhood, our children are taught contempt. Contempt for their families, their history, their country, and if they’re white males, for themselves. And we wonder why they commit suicide and overdose on drugs.

    Oh, so true, Doug. Contempt is the correct word in every situation. It is such a tragedy.

    I realized, too, that in recent years I have learned much of my history from biographies. They are so rich in telling us about the people themselves, their probable motivations, their suffering and their victories. They are a delightful way to take in history.

    • #4
  5. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Very, very good point. Instead of the wonder that should be part of childhood, our children are taught contempt. Contempt for their families, their history, their country, and if they’re white males, for themselves. And we wonder why they commit suicide and overdose on drugs.

    Oh, so true, Doug. Contempt is the correct word in every situation. It is such a tragedy.

    I realized, too, that in recent years I have learned much of my history from biographies. They are so rich in telling us about the people themselves, their probable motivations, their suffering and their victories. They are a delightful way to take in history.

    It’s not too surprising that people who believe in collectivism as the path to utopia don’t believe in teaching the biographies of specific individuals. As Marxists, why would they value the individual lives, stories, and decisions that have shaped our history? They also seem to think that the particular words that were written have less importance than their new theories about what those words really meant. But wonderfully, the words survive and continue to speak across generations. They provide lasting evidence of the falsity of those theories. Thanks for sharing! 

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Lilly B (View Comment):
    It’s not too surprising that people who believe in collectivism as the path to utopia don’t believe in teaching the biographies of specific individuals.

    Thanks so much, Lilly! I hadn’t thought of the refusal to focus on individuals. 

    • #6
  7. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    I marvel at the beauty of Washington’s words. Thank G-d he didn’t have a Jen Psaki answering his correspondence. 

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    I marvel at the beauty of Washington’s words. Thank G-d he didn’t have a Jen Psaki answering his correspondence.

    Good grief! What a terrible thought!

    • #8
  9. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn:

    George Washington had sent a letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode, Island. His letter included these touching words:

    May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

    I had somehow missed the fact that the congregation had sent a letter first to the President, with these words of gratitude and prayer:

    Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People — a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance — but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: — deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language equal parts of the great governmental Machine: — This so ample and extensive Federal Union whose basis is Philanthropy, Mutual confidence and Public Virtue, we cannot but acknowledge to be the work of the Great God, who ruleth in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth, doing whatever seemeth him good.

    For all these Blessings of civil and religious liberty which we enjoy under an equal benign administration, we desire to send up our thanks to the Ancient of Days, the great preserver of Men — beseeching him, that the Angel who conducted our forefathers through the wilderness into the promised Land, may graciously conduct you through all the difficulties and dangers of this mortal life: — And, when, like Joshua full of days and full of honour, you are gathered to your Fathers, may you be admitted into the Heavenly Paradise to partake of the water of life, and the tree of immortality.

    Those folks in the Eighteenth century could really sling the lingo, couldn’t they?

    I think it was the quill pens.

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    If anyone would like to add a favorite history story, please feel free! Happy and sad stories are welcome.

    • #10
  11. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Very, very good point. Instead of the wonder that should be part of childhood, our children are taught contempt. Contempt for their families, their history, their country, and if they’re white males, for themselves. And we wonder why they commit suicide and overdose on drugs.

    Oh, so true, Doug. Contempt is the correct word in every situation. It is such a tragedy.

    I realized, too, that in recent years I have learned much of my history from biographies. They are so rich in telling us about the people themselves, their probable motivations, their suffering and their victories. They are a delightful way to take in history.

    More stories and biographies about real people in real times. Not the crapola that comes from the SO-enlightened ‘scholars’ from today’s “learned” institutions.

    Such as the racist author who re-wrote history in her words and feelings with funding from the OLD Gray lady:

    • #11
  12. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy) Thatcher
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy)
    @GumbyMark

    The most important sentiment in Washington’s letter to the Hebrew Congregation is expressed in this sentence:

    “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.”

    In the rest of the world at that time, and still today in some parts, tolerance was something bestowed by a ruler or dominant group which could be revoked at their discretion. In Washington’s meaning, tolerance is that which we owe to each other – a mutual obligation.

    The other important aspect is his reference to “inherent natural rights”, emphasizing that these were not created by the Declaration or Constitution.

    The sentiment was not new to Washington.  In September 1775  he sent instructions to Benedict Arnold, commanding the American expedition about to start its epic campaign through the backwoods of Maine to Quebec, directing him to respect the religious beliefs of Canadians, who were almost all Catholic.  He wrote:

    “While we are Contending for own own Liberty, we should be very cautious of violating the Rights of Conscience in others; ever considering that God alone is the Judge of the Hearts of Men and to him only in this Case they are answerable” 

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    The sentiment was not new to Washington.  In September 1775  he sent instructions to Benedict Arnold, commanding the American expedition about to start its epic campaign through the backwoods of Maine to Quebec, directing him to respect the religious beliefs of Canadians, who were almost all Catholic.  He wrote:

    “While we are Contending for own own Liberty, we should be very cautious of violating the Rights of Conscience in others; ever considering that God alone is the Judge of the Hearts of Men and to him only in this Case they are answerable” 

    I didn’t know that, Mark. Thank you.

    • #13
  14. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Thank you for this beautiful post! The greatness of the Founders was indeed not in what they owned or the color of their skin, but instead by how they persevered and overcame adversity in themselves and others. That is a timeless lesson!

    • #14
  15. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    I loved teaching American history to 9 year old children when I was a teacher. I taught 4th grade for 24 years and they were so excited to learn things about our history. One of the sources we used in my first school was the E.D. Hirsch book: What Every Fourth Grader Should Know. If you don’t know about his book series for elementary children, then go find them. Pass them on to your children and grandchildren. They are filled with facts and details, and he does not disparage the people who helped make our nation in the 1700s. 

    When you teach children how those leaders were truly willing to lose everything: their “fortunes” and their lives in order to break away from being ruled by a king and create a nation ruled by the people, there forms an admiration for these people. There is plenty of time when these kids grow up to find out that they were also fraught with human frailties. We all are…But don’t sour them on our nation when they are young. Everyone needs heroes. 

    • #15
  16. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    This is what it’s all about, including disease control, shutting down schools, business, destroying our understanding of our own history.  We allow teachers unions to control our public schools and private schools tend to be influenced by them.    We do not need teachers unions.  We do not need State education administration.  Schools should be run by parents and individual teachers as if each were private and independent.  The overhead, the supervision is not only unnecessary, it is corrupt and deadly harmful and way more expensive than necessary.  

    • #16
  17. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    I Walton (View Comment):

    This is what it’s all about, including disease control, shutting down schools, business, destroying our understanding of our own history. We allow teachers unions to control our public schools and private schools tend to be influenced by them. We do not need teachers unions. We do not need State education administration. Schools should be run by parents and individual teachers as if each were private and independent. The overhead, the supervision is not only unnecessary, it is corrupt and deadly harmful and way more expensive than necessary.

    Fire the superintendents and multiple assistants and raise the teacher’s pay.

    • #17
  18. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    I Walton (View Comment):

    This is what it’s all about, including disease control, shutting down schools, business, destroying our understanding of our own history. We allow teachers unions to control our public schools and private schools tend to be influenced by them. We do not need teachers unions. We do not need State education administration. Schools should be run by parents and individual teachers as if each were private and independent. The overhead, the supervision is not only unnecessary, it is corrupt and deadly harmful and way more expensive than necessary.

    The ultimate goal is to make sure that no one thinks this country is worth fighting for.

    • #18
  19. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    It’s not just the legitimately historical stories that we’re losing. Recently something reminded me of the story of young George Washington and the cherry tree (“I cannot tell a lie”). I had to wonder: would anybody under 40 even recognize a reference to that story?

    The story itself is certainly apocryphal, but that’s not the point. It, and countless other stories both true and untrue, are our folklore. They are part of the fabric that unify us as a country, and they collectively embody our values and shared heritage. Do children still learn these stories? I doubt it.

    • #19
  20. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    And now Washington is being removed from our coinage. 

    • #20
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hang On (View Comment):

    And now Washington is being removed from our coinage.

    When did that happen?

    • #21
  22. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Lilly B (View Comment):
    It’s not too surprising that people who believe in collectivism as the path to utopia don’t believe in teaching the biographies of specific individuals.

    Thanks so much, Lilly! I hadn’t thought of the refusal to focus on individuals.

    That simply isn’t true. Biographies of Lenin abounded in the Soviet Union. Same is true of Mao in China.

    • #22
  23. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    And now Washington is being removed from our coinage.

    When did that happen?

    It will happen next year. Maya Angelou is replacing him.

    • #23
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hang On (View Comment):
    That simply isn’t true. Biographies of Lenin abounded in the Soviet Union. Same is true of Mao in China.

    Those are leaders. What about the rank-and-file folks, or people who are writers outside of their mainstream?

    • #24
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    And now Washington is being removed from our coinage.

    When did that happen?

    It will happen next year. Maya Angelou is replacing him.

    I love Maya Angelou, but seriously?!

    • #25
  26. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    That simply isn’t true. Biographies of Lenin abounded in the Soviet Union. Same is true of Mao in China.

    Those are leaders. What about the rank-and-file folks, or people who are writers outside of their mainstream?

    Nothing could be published that wasn’t approved, but there were biographies of rank-and-file folks and the mythology surrounding them. One was for a Young Pioneer (think communist boy scouts) who turned his parents over to the KGB for saying seditious things and then was killed by the other people in his village. That was a tale told over and over. There were biographies of snipers and air aces during WW2. There were also biographies of tsars. And a famous movie of Tsar Ivan I. 

    • #26
  27. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    And now Washington is being removed from our coinage.

    When did that happen?

    It will happen next year. Maya Angelou is replacing him.

    I love Maya Angelou, but seriously?!

    My only encounter with her was at a Duke commencement for a cousin of mine. I wasn’t impressed. To say the least. Race baiting white guilt.

    • #27
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hang On (View Comment):
    Nothing could be published that wasn’t approved, but there were biographies of rank-and-file folks and the mythology surrounding them. One was for a Young Pioneer (think communist boy scouts) who turned his parents over to the KGB for saying seditious things and then was killed by the other people in his village. That was a tale told over and over. There were biographies of snipers and air aces during WW2. There were also biographies of tsars. And a famous movie of Tsar Ivan I. 

    I think your examples are making my point, HangOn. Especially the part of needing approval of the regime. BTW, some say that the story about the boy who turned over his parents was invented

    • #28
  29. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    Nothing could be published that wasn’t approved, but there were biographies of rank-and-file folks and the mythology surrounding them. One was for a Young Pioneer (think communist boy scouts) who turned his parents over to the KGB for saying seditious things and then was killed by the other people in his village. That was a tale told over and over. There were biographies of snipers and air aces during WW2. There were also biographies of tsars. And a famous movie of Tsar Ivan I.

    I think your examples are making my point, HangOn. Especially the part of needing approval of the regime. BTW, some say that the story about the boy who turned over his parents was invented.

    I didn’t understand your point about needing approval.  Everything did after 1928 or so. There were things unofficially published (not generally biographies since the government controlled the archives and their access) with samizdat. Doctor Zhivago and many of Solzhenitsyn’s works were the most famous.

    The story of Pavel may have been contrived. But it was not made up out of whole cloth, just as tales of Washington and the cherry tree weren’t.  They reflect the power of myth and show aspirations.  Communist aspirations may make us shudder, but there you are.

    • #29
  30. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hang On (View Comment):
    The story of Pavel may have been contrived. But it was not made up out of whole cloth, just of tales of Washington and the cherry tree weren’t.  They reflect the power of myth and show aspirations.  Communist aspirations may make us shudder, but there you are.

    Very good point. Thanks.

    • #30
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