I recently took my two children on an adventure into Washington D.C.. I had talked it up a little bit, as both children have been to a number of historic sites in the East. I thought it was time to try to tie it all together so that they would gain an understanding of the bigger picture of U.S. history.
We started out with an automobile ride to a Metro train station in Maryland, found the correct place to park the car and got a quick education on how to pay to ride the train. Our train ride terminated at a Metro Station in Washington D.C.
We began our walking tour in downtown and made our way to the Mall with the Washington Monument being the most visible monument. We proceeded to the World War II memorial, spent some time, took some photos and talked about why it was significant. Onward to the Vietnam Veterans memorial and then the Lincoln Monument. We happened to land on a tour group that had a presenter for the Vietnam Veterans memorial. We stopped to listen before we moved on. At the end of the presentation I asked my son if he noticed the terminology used for the talk the guide had given. He had not, so I reminded him that she repeatedly used the term “Vietnam Conflict” instead of the word War. I asked if he knew why the individual had done that, and he had no idea. So I enlightened him with the fact that the entire 15 year conflict was an illegal action perpetrated by the United States government against the Vietnamese peoples homeland in support of the french peoples attempt to colonize an independent and free people. Official war must be declared by the congress of the united states, and that specific action never happened. I did not go into the specifics of what that entails, but I believe he understood my point.
After visiting the Lincoln Memorial Monument, we perused for a bit in the park service gift shop and decided on a few items, one of which was a book that I bought for my daughter, “Harriet Tubman Secret Agent, how daring slaves and free blacks spied for the union during the civil war”, published by the National Geographic. After a quick review I recognized that that this book provided significant information that enabled me to find detailed information. I instantly knew this would be a good book for my daughter. I also took an interest in the book, and in doing so researched a few items that I found interesting with respect to Pennsylvania and its attitude towards slavery.
With the start of the next day I had planned on visiting Arlington Cemetery, but had to manage time against facility closing deadlines, so we made our way to the Iwo Jima war memorial and then headed to the Air and Space museum, followed up by the American Indian Museum.
We observed and absorbed as much as we could in the air and space museum. I feel fortunate to have seen the Wright brothers exhibit and Germany’s V-2 rocket. My kids and I have traveled by air so much, that observance of all the different pieces of aircraft did not hold our attention very long. An impression was made however on my daughter in that she noticed a heavy emphasis on our ability to make war on each other with every new break through in technology.
Onward to the American Indian Museum, and the final stop of our adventure. I had imagined to see items of historical significance, maybe some recreated scenes of historical significance, but what is presented here is very much different than my imagined expectations. On the second floor, tucked around the corner from the main exhibit, the gift shop, was an area that had well constructed posters. The theme that sticks in my mind, not sure if it is the actual theme, is the contribution that Native Americans have made to the American experience.
I did learn a few things here, but there were gaping holes in the presentation. For example, I had known about Admiral Joseph James ‘Jocko’ Clark, (USN (November 12, 1893 – July 13, 1971) was an admiral in the United States Navy, who commanded aircraft carriers during World War II. Born and raised in Oklahoma and a native of the Cherokee Nation, he was the first Native American to graduate from the United States Naval Academy, in 1917). Pretty significant don’t you think, but there was no mention of him in the exhibit. I learned that there were not one Nation, but 26 Native Nations involved in developing and practicing the “Code Talkers” secret coding which began in WW I and continued in WW II. SeaAlaska corporation was responsible for this exhibit.
The next floor provided a huge exhibit of the South American continent aboriginal inhabitants, and their life experience before, during, and after the invasion of the “discoverers”. We took time to absorb what we could. A lot of reading in these exhibits on every floor. Not to kid friendly. I do not think they learned very much. The next level, on the fourth floor, has an exhibit that I wished I could have spent more time in. Basically it was a compilation of how the master race, the Great White father, the honorable American, goes through the trouble of having grand councils, drafting negotiations of treaty, ratifying these supreme documents, and then ignoring them or bastardizing the implementation of the agreements so badly, that the inevitable happens. People starve, get pushed around, loose their homes, die, and then reach a breaking point.
The following text sums this up just a little bit. (taken from the exhibit)
“Most Americans live on Treaty Lands. Every treaty in United States history has a story as complicated and tragic as the small sample shown in this exhibit. These stories are not finished.
The U.S. Senate ratified more than 370 Indian treaties. About 250 more Executive orders and Acts of Congress took the form of treaties. Nearly every part of the country outside the original 13 colonies is affected by a treaty made by the United States. Every American has inherited the rights and obligations made in their government treaties”.
The problem is, the modern day Americans are so focused on self gratification and worshiping the Dollar, they have little time for anything else. They lack the knowledge to understand these things as well, which is evident in the .stereotypical statements most Americans let cross their lips, “e.g.”
“We should give them___________fill in the blank.
Another example to prove my point of the stupidity of today’s American and brokenness of the educational system is that most Americans believe that the U.S. Bought Alaska from Russia.