Thursday, March 25, 2010

US History Update: Archives

We are moving back to high tide here!

We finished the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War in much more depth than planned (thank you Liberty's Kids!).

We've discussed the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (thanks to this book!).

The kids can spout off the preamble to the Constitution and discuss the first 5 amendments creditably. They have a general idea of 6-9, but all the legal stuff kind of runs together and they confuse which is which. Number 10 is easy.

What next? Well.... Let's go see the real deal! Today we piled into Blue Streak and went down to the Archives to see the documents.

I goofed slightly on this one. The last I had paid attention, today was supposed to be sunny and mid sixties. We were running late for the Golden Window of Parking Opportunity, so I told the kids they wouldn't need their coats. Oops!

We got there at 10:20 (they open at 10) and there was a long line to get in. It was in the low fifties with the occasional drop of rain... I asked the people waiting and they said, "Oh, there's always a line to get in. You should see it in the summer." Hmmm. Let's stick it out.

We actually got inside the building after a 15 minute wait, and the whole backup was the wait for security. Still, 15 minutes is a long time to be chilly, even with endless rounds of, "Cold? This is nothing! When I was a kid, it was so cold that the swim suits were all lined with fur." Oob was not happy. The rotunda, where the documents are displayed, was dimly lit to conserve the papers.

Oob and Choclo do not like "dimly lit." Choclo wasn't too bad, but Oob shrieked, "No! No! No!" through most of our viewing time. I just smiled and told people he was an anarchist (kidding!).

Still. We saw them. The documents our country was founded on. We saw the big "We the People." We saw John Hancock's John Hancock. We saw the actual Bill of Rights. All papers actually handled by the Founding Fathers.

I was surprised at how moved I was to see them. They look ancient. Fragile. The ink is so faded that I could only read the larger words. It brought home the fragility of those rights, perhaps to make me take them less for granted, perhaps to underscore our generation's responsibility to protect those rights.

It's a little embarrassing how much of my home school runs on, "Things I Always Wanted to Know About" principle. Starting the US History megaproject, I really wanted to get a better understanding of our history and how everything fit together (and I wanted that for my kids). Seeing the documents was an important piece of that for me.

Oh, I looked, and I didn't see the penumbra around the Constitution.

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