Friday, April 27, 2012

Passing History onto Your Children and Grandchildren

By Vonnie Davis

My thirteen-year-old grandson called me as I was cooking supper tonight to tell me about his eighth grade field trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Although he lives in Frederick, Maryland, he's been to the battlefield several times before. His dad, my youngest, still enjoys hiking over the area and crawling across the boulders of Devil's Den.

He's introduced Ryan to what he considers a special part of his childhood. You see, as a single Mom, taking my kids to Gettysburg, about twenty miles from where we lived, was a great way to spend Sunday afternoons. Oh, the teachable moments we had!



Now my son is doing the same with Ryan. He's had custody of Ryan since he was eighteen months old (Think bodybuilder doing pottie training!)

 

"I knew more about the battlefield than anyone else, Grandma. Well, except for the teacher."

I smiled at my over-achieving grandson. A straight "A" advanced placement student, he's taking intro to calculus as an eighth grader, plays first chair trumpet, plays football, soccer and wrestles on the Maryland Terp Elite team. He wants to be an actuary when he grows up.

"Oh? Did you?" 

"Yeah. Some of the kids got a little rowdy, and I told them they were being disrespectful of the soldiers who bled and died there."

I stopped stirring the cornbread I was making and silently cheered his "hootspa". "What did they say?"

"Some listened. A couple jerks wanted to act immature." He sighed as only a teenager can. "Some people have no clue." 

So true.


The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1-3, 1863 in and around this sleepy little town in Southern Pennsylvania, just a few miles North of the Mason-Dixon line. Historians cite it as the turning point of the Civil War. Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both sides were casualties of the battle.

I've always felt an important part of our jobs as parents and grandparents is passing along the history of our ancestors, our communities and our country. Many societies have a strong oral-history tradition. We've lost that along the way--too much technology perhaps. I fear our pasts will lessen in importance and dim in the historical horizon. Soon, hallowed places like battlefields will be plowed under and turned into parking lots of shopping malls or another apartment complex.

Some may not see the connection between my concerns and a poem written by John Donne. I hope you do.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

6 comments:

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great post, Vonnie - and what a smart young man. You and your son have taught him well! Donne is one of my favourite poets, so thanks for that.

Vonnie Davis said...

Mike is always getting compliments on how polite Ryan is--and on his fabulous sense of humor. I love Donne's poetry, too.

Jannine Gallant said...

How wonderful that your grandson "gets it." I'm sure it has a lot to do with how smart his grandma is. I firmly believe you have to respect the past to have the right perspective for the future. Terrific post!

Vonnie Davis said...

Thanks, Jannine. Ryan was born on my 50th birthday. We have a special bond. Mike and I have both taught him the value of respecting others, Nature and himself. I love that he has a sense of history's importance. He's a world traveler, too, having been on four cruises with his dad and his new Mom, he affectionately calls Miz Tina.

Jerri Hines said...

When I was growing up, I was extremely close to my grandmother. Ryan is one lucky boy to have you for his grandmother.

Vonnie Davis said...

Oh, if you could read our Super Bowl texts...lol. Whatever team he wants to win, I pick the other. We bet a quarter and text frantically throughout the game. He lives about six hours away now, so this new technology keeps us in touch.