I love history. I try to learns as much as I can about the past by reading different varieties of history books. I am an avid reader and the last 6 years or so, I have been into mostly non-fiction. I feel that reading about our past, helps us understand our today. Whenever I’m reading a political biography, a former president or political figure, I am struck by how similar things are to now. As I am reading certain situations, I think, yep that is happening today. I literally could insert names and it would be a news article from today. I’ve learned that human nature doesn’t change. We go in circles. We think we are super progressive, but we are just living the same thing over and over again with different players and different means. Alexander Hamilton might not have had twitter, but you know what he spent all his time doing? Writing letters. Sometimes anonymous, sometimes signed, sometimes set up to look like it was from someone else. They would be posted in newspapers. That’s how the political storms played back and forth. Jefferson vs Hamilton writing anonymous editorials back and forth. Hamilton’s children said sometimes they wouldn’t see him for days. He was locked up in his office writing letter after letter after letter. Not just to newspapers but to friends and such. We have always needed something to do with our hands. Knitting, cards, crossword puzzles. Now it’s the phone. The phone is incredibly addicting, but my point remains the same about human nature.
I don’t limit myself to political history. I also read books about certain disasters or time periods. I am fascinated in general by history.
I try to pass this love onto my kids. My A girl might not remember the date of my birthday, but she knows probably about 80% of the presidents and all 50 states. Knowledge is power, so they say.
The nice thing about living in PA is that there are so many historical places to visit. In the last year in a half we’ve been to Gettysburg, Mt Vernon, Philadelphia, DC and more.
When we are touring through different places I try to educate A as we go and tell her facts about the different places. I am always happy to see what she has learned and it’s fun to see her take an interest in history as well. It being one of her favorite subjects at school now. Second to Art.
When we were in Philadelphia about a year ago, we were trying to visit the US mint. We all really wanted to see it. We had already visited the firefighter museum, and liberty bell, and independence hall. When we got to the mint, unfortunately it was temporarily closed until further notice.
We started to walk back to the main historical square. Walking back we took a different road than we came. We saw a pretty church and connected to it was a cemetery. A and I read on the plaque that this is where Benjamin Franklin was buried. There was a group crowded around his grave on the other side of the iron gate and a tour guide was talking to them about Ben Franklin. If you have ever been to his grave, you know the tradition of people throwing pennies on it. I don’t really know why. I did hear that it cracked the old grave from all the pennies, and they had to replace it. But I didn’t hear why they did it, because as he was explaining it, I noticed some of the tourists eyes in the group looking down in my direction, sort of by my feet. I looked down to see what they were looking at, and I saw my son, E, stealing as many pennies off the grave as he could get. His little arm sticking through, stealing them, putting them on the ground by his feet and repeat. I was horrified. I pride myself on making sure that my kids behave in important situations and if they don’t, removing them. With the fence, I didn’t think that we had anything to worry about about so I wan’t as attentive.
I grabbed his hand away apologizing quietly to the group so I did not interrupt the tour. I tried to put as many pennies back on the grave without making too many noises or cracking it again, because that was the last thing I needed right then.
Eric and I exchanged a look of mutual embarrassment. Like in, didn’t see that one coming, E stealing from Ben Franklins grave that is. I asked Eric if we could go in the cemetery to get a closer look, but sadly, he told me that you had to pay to get in. Not one to be deterred by honesty and already taken to thievery, E let go of Erics hand and took off running into the cemetery at lightening pace. I ran after him as fast as I could. He started running toward the group gathered around B. Franklins grave and I started to run faster. I grabbed him right before he got to the pennies again, thankfully. But as I was running, I heard the tour guide say, now lets have a moment of silence for Mr. Franklin in honor of all that he has done for the great city of Philadelphia. When I grabbed E’s arm to get him out of the cemetery, he started shrieking at the top of his lungs. E clearly did not respect B Franklin or his contributions to the city. Eric had to help me with him because he was very angry, so the two of us had to haul him out while the tour group did their best to ignore this disrespectful, unpatriotic family of four.
I am sure our disrespect and thievery was the topic of many dinner tables that night. Luckily they did not know that we are from Harrisburg. A and I decided that as citizens of the capital city of PA, it is our duty to be good examples to all the other cities in PA. We definitely were not doing our job that day.
Next time we go to Philadelphia as a family, we will be better.