Thursday, December 24, 2009

Exodus Captain Dies

Can one man make a difference?

Captain Yitzhak (Ike) Ahronovitch died yesterday (12/23/2009). That is a name not recognized by many of us today – but was known world-wide 62 years ago.

Ahronovitch was the captain of the Exodus 1947, a cargo ship that took Jewish holocaust survivors and displaced persons from Europe and attempted to land them in what was then British controlled Palestine – today’s Israel.

The story was epic. A German/Polish-born Jewish captain; a cargo ship that had been sold for scrap to a paramilitary political group called the Haganah; a stand-off at sea – followed by a boarding and firefight in which three passengers were killed. A hunger strike by the passengers after they were taken to their point of disembarkation in France; re-interment of the passengers in camps in the British-controlled portion of Germany; a world firestorm of protest; and finally the gathering of the passengers by the British for transportation to and interment in Crete – then moved to Israel when Israel came into existence in 1948.

The British – responsible for maintaining order in Palestine – tried to block illegal immigration to that territory. A new policy created in 1947 was to send the immigrants back to the nation they had come from. The first ship to fall under this policy was the Exodus.

The Exodus was the former President Warfield, built in 1928. The 320 x 56 foot ship was given to the British under the World War II Lend Lease program, and had served as a troop carrier – housing 400 troops – during the Normandy invasion of 1944. It was sold for scrap in 1946 to a company that was controlled by the Haganah, refitted, and set sail for France to pick up Holocaust survivors for relocation to Palestine.

The Exodus left the port of Sete, France, on July 11, 1947 with more than 4500 passengers – most of them men, women, and 655 children who had survived the Holocaust. A week later, as the ship neared the coast of Palestine, it was ordered to stop by three British destroyers.

Ahronovitch attempted to run the blockade, but was stopped when rammed by two of the destroyers. The Jewish passengers fought the British, throwing smoke bombs, life rafts, and other items that came to hand on the British as they tried to board the Exodus. The British retaliated by opening fire, during which two passengers and one crewman were killed, with many more injured.

The passengers were placed on more seaworthy transports to be returned to France – where they were refused entry. The British then decided the only place large enough to house the emigrants was in their portion of Germany. The scene became violent after the ship docked in Hamburg, and had to be forcibly removed by British soldiers. They were placed in camps near the site of a former concentration camp at Lubeck.

The world outcry was tremendous, and they were relocated to camps in Crete until Israeli statehood in 1948.

The story was so compelling that it was later turned into a book (Exodus by Leon Uris, 1958) and a movie of the same title starring Paul Neuman (1960)

Captain Ahronovitch was born in Danzig, Poland in 1923, and moved to Palestine in 1932 when his family relocated there. Danzig was under quasi-Polish control as a result of the Treaty of Versailles (1919), and its population was 98% German. As a young man, he joined the Palmach, which was the para-military arm of the Haganah. During World War II he learned his sea craft trade by sailing on British and Norwegian merchant vessels. Ahronovitch was only 23 when he took the helm of the Exodus in 1947. On July 11, 1947, he picked up the holocaust refugees at the port of Sete and would sail into history.

Ahronovitch would avoid the limelight after the incident, ultimately studying and receivingn a master’s degree in business administration at Columbia University. He leaves behind two daughters, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren – and a nation that came into being partially because of the attention given to the story of the Exodus.

A tribute to Ahronovitch came from Israeli President Shimon Peres, who stated: "Exodus was also his creation, he was not only its captain but a leader that gave the voyage character and determination." Peres also described Ahronovitch as “one of a kind ... a combination of pioneering, courage and love of his people."

What happened to the Exodus? The Exodus lay as a derelict, moored off of the port of Haifa. It burned to the waterline in 1952, and was sold for scrap in 1963.


Jewish Virtual Library


Captain Ahronovitch, New York Times
Exodus 1947, Wikipedia
Refugees on board the Exodus, Jewish Virtual Museum
British escort wounded off of the Exodus at Haifa, Jewish Virtual Museum

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Fun Fact for Each State

Providing interesting tidbits of information is one way of engaging and challenging students. What better way than to look at our the states of the United States (and Washington, D.C.). By the way.... how many states can you accurately located on a blank map of the United States???
A Fun Fact for Each State

ALABAMA ... Was the first place to have 9-1-1; it started in 1968.

ALASKA ... One out of every 64 people has a pilot's license.

ARIZONA ... Is the only entire state in the continental U.S. that doesn't follow Daylight Savings Time.

ARKANSAS ... Has the only active diamond mine in the U.S.

CALIFORNIA ... Its economy is so large that if it were a country, it would rank seventh in the entire world.

COLORADO ... It became the only state to turn down the Olympics (In 1976).

CONNECTICUT ... The Frisbee was invented here at Yale University.

DELAWARE ... Has more scientists and engineers than any other state.

FLORIDA ... At 759 square miles, Jacksonville is the U.S.'s largest city.

GEORGIA ... It was here, in 1886, that pharmacist John Pemberton made the first vat of Coca-Cola.

HAWAII .. Hawaiians live, on average, five years longer than residents in any other state.

IDAHO ... TV was invented in Rigby, Idaho, in 1922.

ILLINOIS ... The Chicago River is dyed green every St.Patrick's Day

INDIANA .... Home to Santa Claus, Indiana, which get a half million letters to Santa every year.

IOWA ... "Winnebago" vehicles get their name from Winnebago County. Also, it is the only state that begins with two vowels.

KANSAS ... Liberal, Kansas, has an exact replica of the house in The Wizard of Oz.

KENTUCKY ... Has more than $6 billion in gold underneath Fort Knox.

LOUISIANA ... Has parishes instead of counties, because they were originally Spanish church units.

MAINE ... It's so big, it covers as many square miles as the other five New England states combined.

MARYLAND ... The Ouija board was created in Baltimore in 1892.

MASSACHUSETTS ... The Fig Newton is named after Newton, Massachusetts.

MICHIGAN ... Fremont, home to Gerber, is the baby food capital of the world.

MINNESOTA ... Bloomington's Mall of America is so big, if you spent 10 minutes in each store, you'd be there nearly four days.

MISSISSIPPI ... President Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear here ... that's how the teddy bear got its name.

MISSOURI ... Is the birthplace of the ice cream cone.

MONTANA ... A sapphire from Montana is in the Crown Jewels of England.

NEBRASKA ... More triplets are born here than in any other state.

NEW HAMPSHIRE ... Birthplace of Tupperware, invented in 1938 by Earl Tupper.

NEW JERSEY ... Has the most shopping malls in one area in the world.

NEW MEXICO ... Smokey the Bear was rescued from a 1950 forest fire here.

NEW YORK ... Is home to the nation's oldest cattle ranch, started in 1747 in Montauk.

NORTH CAROLINA ..... Home of the first Krispy Kreme doughnut.

NORTH DAKOTA ... Rigby, North Dakota, is the exact geographic center of North America..

OHIO ... The hot dog was invented here in 1900.

OKLAHOMA ... The grounds of the state capital are covered by operating oil wells.

OREGON ..... Has the most ghost towns in the country.

PENNSYLVANIA ... The smiley :) was first used in 1980 by computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University.

RHODE ISLAND ... The nation's oldest bar, the White Horse Tavern, opened here in 1673

SOUTH CAROLINA ... Sumter County is home to the world's largest gingko farm.

SOUTH DAKOTA ... Is the only state that's never had an earthquake.

TENNESSEE ... Nashville's Grand Ole Opry is the longest running live radio show in the world.

TEXAS ... Dr. Pepper was invented in Waco back in 1885.

UTAH ... The first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant opened here in 1952.

VERMONT ... Montpelier is the only state capital without a McDonald's.

VIRGINIA ... Home of the world's largest office building ... the Pentagon.

WASHINGTON ... Seattle has twice as many college graduates as any other state.

WASHINGTON D.C. .... Was the first planned capital in the world.

WEST VIRGINIA ... Had the world's first brick-paved street, Summers Street, laid in Charleston in 1870.

WISCONSIN ... The ice cream sundae was invented here in Two Rivers in 1881 to get around Blue Laws prohibiting plain ice cream from being sold on Sundays. (However Ithaca, NY, also claims to be the birthplace of the sundae.)

WYOMING ... Was the first state to allow women to vote--in 1869!
USA Map, Alabama Maps

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy 96th Birthday to the Crossword Puzzle

It was on this date (12/21) in 1913 that the first crossword puzzle was published - an 'invention' of fifty-one year old Arthur Wynne, and appearing in the New York World newspaper in a Sunday edition.

Wynne was an Englishman who had emigrated to the United States, and was employed by the World. His creation was the result of his editor asking for something new to add to the Fun section of the Sunday edition. Wynne modified a game he had played as a child called Magic Squares and created the crossword puzzle.

What we today call a crossword puzzle was originally called a word-cross, then cross-word, and finally crossword. It would become a fad in America during the "Roaring Twenties", and is still a popular newspaper feature throughout the world today. Simon and Schuster would publish the first crossword puzzle book in 1924.

The first crossword puzzle was diamond shaped, with none of today's blacked-out spaces. It was created entirely by hand - compared to the computer generated puzzles that dominate the market today. A fun exercise is to have students try to find the answers to the original crossword puzzle. While their great grandparents would have had to use their heads, or perhaps a dictionary, they can search the Internet to find the answers.

It's not as easy to solve as one might think - a great challenge for the kids.

Wynne eventually retired, and passed away in Clearwater, FL, in 1945.

For those of you NOT able to solve the puzzle above on your own, the answer is here.


Arthur Wynne, Findtarget
Crossword puzzle, A Brief History of Crossword Puzzles
Wynne obituary, Findtarget

Sunday, December 20, 2009

'Thanks for the Memories' - Bob Hope

One of my sources mentioned that today (December 20) in 1920 Leslie Townes Hope received American citizenship. Hope was born in 1903 in England. His father moved the family to America in 1907 - though Hope often quipped that:

"I left England at the age of four when I found out I couldn't be king."
The family settled in Ohio, and Leslie became a naturalized citizen at the age of seventeen.
He was better known to Americans as Bob Hope. As I began to think about him - especially his efforts to entertain American troops during World War II (an on through Desert Storm) - I searched and found some resources that might be of use to our teachers in the classroom.

Army-Navy Screen Magazine presents a line up of stars from the Armed Forces Radio Service program "Command Performance" to entertain the troops. Filmed at Camp Roberts, California, this episode featured Hope as the host, along with a galaxy of stars who donated their time and efforts. Remember as you watch this that this was a show taped for radio broadcast - though with a live audience.

Bob Hope on Command Performance, WW II Part 1 and Part 2.

Discussion on the steak and the concept of meat rationing could be especially instructive, as well as the concept of humor to relieve crisis and stress.

A short (6 minute) but interesting compilation of Hope's USO career from World War II to Desert Storm is found here.

Finally, the Library of Congress provides information and resources on Hope's USO tours through their On the Road LOC exhibit site.

Photo Resources:

Bob Hope, Wikipedia
Bob Hope during a 1943 radio broadcast, Library of Congress

Friday, December 18, 2009

American Treasures Exhibit

Wow - the 100th blog entry! What better topic than one concerning our nation's history and heritage.

I was privileged to attend the Teaching American History Project Directors conference in Washington DC last week. The conference was enlightening, as was the opportunity (evenings and an afternoon) to visit various spots in our nation’s capital on our own.

Knowing the emphasis our teachers are placing on the use of primary resources, I visited the Library of Congress, Jefferson Building – which is the oldest of the three LOC sites in the capital. It was an absolutely splendid experience – one even more impressive as I realized that the LOC was working on digitizing many of its items for display on its internet website.

It was fascinating to see a selection of Jefferson’s books, which helped restart the Library after its destruction when the British burned many of the official buildings in Washington during the War of 1812 – and to be told that he actually collected (but had not read) many of those books.

I also was able to spend an inordinate amount of my time at the American Treasures exhibit titled “Creating the United States” - which chronicled the steps to American Independence and the writing of the Constitution over a decade later. The exhibit housed maps, letters, and documents – all primary resources that could be used to teach this concept in the classroom without resorting to the textbook. It would be an engaging and innovative method of instruction with our young people, showing them the very documents and thinking that led to the foundation of our nation. The Creating the United States link. That link also has a tab that leads to interactive activities for the students.

Many of the items in the exhibit are available online at the Library of Congress. A link from the aforementioned site takes you to the Top Treasures Gallery where digitized primary resources on the Declaration of Independence, Mason’s Declaration of Rights, Washington’s Commission as Commander-in-Chief, the Constitution, and more are available.

Of course, the first item I saw was a huge map of colonial America that would look really nice hanging in my office…..

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Most Corrupt/Incorrupt Countries List

Matt Rosenberg over at the Geography blog posted a site that annually rates political corruption in the countries of the world.

The host site is Transparency International, which is a global coalition reporting on corruption world-wide.

180 countries are rated through a Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) that is based on 13 independent surveys.

The least corrupt (ranked from #5 to the most least corrupt #1) nations:
5 - Switzerland
4 - Sweden
3 - Singapore
2 - Denmark
1 - New Zealand (least corrupt)

The MOST corrupt (ranked from 5th most down to the most) nations:

5 - Iraq
4 - Sudan
3 - Myanmar
2 - Afghanistan
1 - Somalia (most corrupt)

Where does the United States rank in all of this???? We are ranked 19th least corrupt - right between the United Kingdom and Barbados.

The site also contains the CPI from 2001 - 2008 which can be used for comparison purposes.

This resource could be useful for engaging students in conversations and analysis as to reason for corruption (or lack of it) as well as examples of corruption at home and abroad.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Identifying a Pearl Harbor Picture and Using a Wordle

December 7th - Pearl Harbor day. I have a photo that I got from the Internet of Pearl Harbor that gives a view from (I think) a Japanese plane on that fateful day.
Unfortunately, I was not then yet marking my photos with added information - such as where I got them and what the title was.

Your help is appreciated: Can any of the readers of this blog help to identify the time, the ships, and the (Internet) source of the picture? I think I see an aircraft flying by one of the ships.
Remember: Pictures like this are primary resources too, and can help to enhance student understanding of an event, as well as to develop critical analysis skills.

On a second note - the last blog entry was on Wordles - so I became curious on the emphasis of words used in President Franklin Roosevelt's famous "Day of Infamy" speech. The wordle is below.

There are some pretty potent key words in this speech by Roosevelt, and this type of an approach could be an excellent starter for classroom discussion on the topic of American involvement in World War II.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Using Wordles for Analysis in Social Studies

I like to read other blogs - for information, ideas, and/or pure enjoyment - and the Speaking of History blog had an entry recently that started some ideas in my mind. Eric Landhorst's blog article was titled Wordle of Obama's Speech on Afghanistan. Eric uses quite a bit of technology in his middle school classroom, and its having an impact of the education of his students.

I ran across the concept of wordle's last year, thought they were nice, but put no real thought to applying them in Social Studies. What is a wordle??? From the Wordle website:

"Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends."
We talk about the Gettysburg Address, and in days past (and perhaps today in some areas) had the kids memorize either all or portions of that momenteous speech. But while we read what Lincoln was saying, what was he saying? What were points of emphasis that he continually brought to bear? How can you visualize what is being said? What are the major ideas expressed in the words from the Gettysburg Address (picture to the right). A wordle can help with that. It's a great tool for analysis and could encourage a conversation.

How difficult is it to create a wordle? Humm. With the examples above, I searched (for instance) for Gettysburg Address Text, copied the first one that came up, and dropped it into the box on Wordle. Then I decided how I wanted it to look (there are choices after you have the wordle that can be found under the Layout button). Also - do I want this for my own purposes, or to share on the Wordle site? All told - from search to final product - about one minute, two at the tops
Other ideas? What about a comparison of presidential inaugural addresses in similiar times, such as FDR in 1941 (Wordle on the left) and President Obama in 2009 (Wordle on the right)? Are there similiarities? Differences? How does their perspective tie into the reality of the times, or was the speech simply rhetoric designed to placate the audience and the nation? What was the emphasis of these men in their speech? Words just leap out that can be used in a class discussion, Venn diagram, or in a comparison of one historical era to another. Wordles can help.... and it's a free, easy to use program.

By the way - what were the major word points made in Washington's Farewell Address?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

100 Great Moments in American History

YouTube has some incredible video clips from history. The History is Elementary blog alerted readers to a fabulous site where 100 great moments in American History are on YouTube video clips.

I am working with Information Services to allow YouTube to be in our schools. However, you might look at the videos - you can download them into your computer and then play them to your class.
Click to go to the 100 Great Moments in American History.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Perhaps a meaningful piece of history still applicable in its sentiments today....

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mussolini + Brain + EBay

Glad to see that there is a continued interest in history.... (he says with tongue in cheek)

Or, for those interested, Galileo's lost body parts returned to 'responsible' hands....

Thursday, September 3, 2009

“Separation of Church and State”, Part I

I’ve been reading Original Intent, The Courts, The Constitution, & Religion, by David Barton. It is interesting reading.

Since this is Constitution Month (and September 17 is Constitution Day, followed by Freedom Week), I thought I’d share one aspect of the Constitution and Bill of Rights from the book.

The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

According to Barton,

“The current application of the “separation of church and state” metaphor actually represents a relatively recent concept rather than the enforcement of a long-standing constitutional principal. This is demonstrated by the fact that the separation idiom appeared in only two cases in the Supreme Court’s first 150 years; yet over the past 50 years, it has been cited in seemingly countless numbers of Court decisions.”
Many of our citizens think that the phrase “separation of church and state” appears in the Constitution.

It does not.

The 1947 Supreme Court 5-4 decision in Everson v. Board of Education established the contemporary standard for this phrase. In that decision the court announced:

“The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.”

After this declaration, the Supreme Court, as well as many lower courts, began striking down religious activities and expressions which had been constitutional for the previous 150 years.

The phrase “separation of church and state” actually first appeared in an exchange of letters between President Thomas Jefferson and the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut.

Jefferson was the first Anti-Federalist President, who was also a champion of the rights of minority religions (in this case Baptists) in Virginia, and an advocate of clear limits on the centralization of government powers.

The Danbury Baptists wrote to Jefferson on October 7, 1801 – nearly seven months after his first inauguration as President. In their letter of congratulations to the new President, the Danbury Baptists also expressed their concern over the entire concept of the First Amendment. They wrote:

“Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty: that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. But sir, our constitution of government is not specific…. Therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights.”
Jefferson wrote a short reply to the Danbury Baptists on January 1, 1802, in which he assured them that the free exercise of religion would not be interfered with by the national government. He wrote:

“Gentlemen, - the affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association give me the highest satisfaction. Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to no other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of government reach actions only and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties. I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious associations assurances of my high respect and esteem.”
Jefferson believed that religious liberties were inalienable rights and that the issue of religious expression was above federal jurisdiction.

Basically, it turns out that the Supreme Court in the Everson case rested its decision not on the Constitution, but on an interpretation of a letter to a Baptist organization by a President – who was reaffirming religious liberties. The Supreme Court went on to continually use this phrase in its decisions since the landmark 1947 case. Part II of this blog entry will explore some of those decisions.


The US Supreme Court building
The Bill of Rights


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Quiz Answers

Here are the quiz answers to Monday's questions. How did you do?


1851 Peru
1776 Scotland
1829 Mexico
1863 The Netherlands
1865 The United States
1861 Russia
1876 The Ottoman Empire
1848 Denmark
1962 Saudi Arabia1837 Spain

Sunday, August 23, 2009

August 23: Ending Official Slavery

On August 23, 1833, Great Britain became the first of Europe’s great empires to abolish slavery in all of its colonies. While not the first to abolish slavery, Britain was the most politically powerful nation to do so up to that time. This was the beginning action that would result in the abolishing of slavery by various countries around the world.

See how well you do…. Can you match the following nations with the year listed below in which they officially abolished slavery?

The Netherlands
The United States
The Ottoman Empire
Saudi Arabia

The Years:

The answers will be posted on this blog on Thursday, August 27.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Teaching American History Grant

The nearest 'big city' television station broadcast a blurb on Citrus County receiving the Teaching American History grant.

To view the video, go to

Our district will be working hard to identify the participants and to get the program rolling.

It's an exciting time. A special thanks to Mr. Klauder for the picture.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Calf Path

Welcome back, Citrus County Social Studies teachers! It's going to be an interesting and innovative year, with increased emphasis on Web 2.0 technology as well as offering professional development for American History teachers through our federal Teaching American History Grant.

Well”, as my students use to say, “I didn’t know this was a literature class!”

Please read the following:

The Calf-Path by Sam Walter Foss
(NH 1858-1911)


One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;


But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day,
By a lone dog that passed that way.
And then a wise bell-wether sheep,
Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep;
And drew the flock behind him too,
As good bell-wethers always do.
And from that day, o'er hill and glade.
Through those old woods a path was made.


And many men wound in and out,
And dodged, and turned, and bent about;
And uttered words of righteous wrath,
Because 'twas such a crooked path.
But still they followed - do not laugh -
The first migrations of that calf.
And through this winding wood-way stalked,
Because he wobbled when he walked.


This forest path became a lane,
that bent, and turned, and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load,
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half,
They trod the footsteps of that calf.


The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;
And this, before men were aware,
A city's crowded thoroughfare;
And soon the central street was this,
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half,
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.


Each day a hundred thousand rout,
Followed the zigzag calf about;
And o'er his crooked journey went,
The traffic of a continent.
A Hundred thousand men were led,
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day;
For thus such reverence is lent,
To well established precedent.


A moral lesson this might teach,
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind,
Along the calf-paths of the mind;
And work away from sun to sun,
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.
They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move.
But how the wise old wood gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah! many things this tale might teach -
But I am not ordained to preach.

What path do you follow? I’m for making a path more straight – right to the heart of reaching students based on the electronic world in which they live.

Essential Question: How can we change our mindset to do two things this year: eligible teachers participate in the Teaching American History grant trainings; and to accept and adapt the new Web 2.0 technologies available for instruction of our students in the classroom?


The Calf Path


01. Sam Foss Portrait, Wikipedia
02. Windy Path
03. Windy Road

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Update: Three World War I Survivors

A brief update to the July 28th blog entry: According to the BBC, there are three survivors of World War I left alive today -

To read the article, click here.

I still stand by my published desire to not let the memories of other wars - and events - disappear. For more information and sites on saving the memories of veterans, see the July 28th blog entry.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The War That Defined A Century

Today is the ninety-fifth anniversary of the war that defined the character of the 20th Century and – to an extent – the experiences we have had in the 21st Century.

The men and women who lived during that time, fought the battles in the mud and trenches of France and other places around the world – they have by and large passed on, and often their stories with them. Great Britain reported in the last month the passing of their oldest WW I veteran and their last survivor of the trenches from the war. The US has two WW I veterans still living.

We are also losing our World War II veterans. Once source indicated almost a thousand of these veterans are dying in America every day. Then we have our Korean War vets, who are most likely retired by now, and our Vietnam vets, who – if not retired – are in their mid- to late-fifties.

If you personally know any vets from any era, see if they won’t talk to you about their experiences – and video tape it if you can. If you videotape it, make several copies – one for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, one for your local historical society, and one for the home town historical society of the veteran – and one for the veteran to share with his/her family. We’re losing precious stories of history every day – perhaps we need to make one small act of trying to preserve what we teach.

And – we’re not only losing the stories of the veterans, but also of those who stayed at home during these wars. They all have their own story to tell – and those stories can be a revealing and fascinating look at the past.

All of this takes a little preparation in preparing questions, filming, etc., but is well worth the effort.

Essential Question: What is our responsibility as instructors for preserving the voices of the past?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Book Review: The Lions of Iwo Jima

I just finished reading “The Lions of Iwo Jima: The story of Combat Team 28 and the bloodiest battle in Marine Corps history” by MG Fred Haynes and James Warren. The book is in our county library system, and was published in 2008.

If you have an interest in World War II, the Pacific arena, this would be a good read for you.

Combat Team 28 was assigned to participate in the invasions of Iwo Jima, to capture Mount Suribachi, and after the capture went on to fight throughout the Iwo Jima campaign. It was captured the last of the island after a bloody, draining month-long battle.

Fred Haynes was a young Marine captain in the 28th Combat Team. His memories, combined with solid research by Warren, provide an excellent first-person account of the action. His descriptions bring forth the horror of war and the dedication of those who fight it.

From the destruction at the beach to the raising of the flag (twice) at Mount Suribachi and from the constant deadly battle with snipers to the final bloody, exhausting days at Bloody Gorge a month after the invasion took place, this book provides an insightful view of what happened, with extensive research of documents, survivor interviews, and an intricately woven story.

Especially interesting is the chapter titled “The Enemy” which investigates why the Japanese fought as doggedly and self-sacrificing as they did, preferring death to capture.

For additional reviews, check at Amazon, Large Print Reviews, and McMillan.
Essential Question: What would be the effect today - given increased communications availability - of a battle such as Iwo Jima?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Civics in Action - Local Constitutional Issue

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
How valuable are our First Amendment rights to us? I saw both sides as I watched the progress of debate over a Constitutional issue that occurred right here in the county seat of Citrus County.

Background: On July 3rd the City of Inverness hosted an Independence Day celebration with entertainment and fireworks at the city-owned Liberty Park. It was designated as a public event, starting at 6:30 PM.

At least three local pastors with members of their congregation went to the park – arriving around 4 PM - to distribute tracts to those interested in taking them, with the intent of stopping when the formal activities began at 6:30. This was not a collaborative planned effort by the pastors – each went independently from the others.

A Sheriff’s deputy ordered one of the pastors - Pastor Sheppard, pastor of Citrus Baptist Missionary Church, to stop preaching and distributing tracts. Sheppard stated that it was a public event, public property, and that he was allowed by the Constitution of the United States to do so.

Contradictory advice was given by other deputies stationed in the park as to the legality of preaching and passing out tracts prior to the scheduled City activities, so Sheppard continued preaching and handing out tracts.

The deputy came by later and again ordered him to stop, threatening arrest for trespassing, and then ordered him out of the park. Later he ordered the pastor’s wife and 5 children (ages between 1 and 8) from the park for creating what he termed “a religious compound” (a child’s wagon with two Scripture verses on it) – perhaps a reference to the Branch Dividians?

Sheppard left, and began preaching and distributing tracts on the public right-of-way outside of the park. The deputy came again and ordered the pastor to stop. Sheppard refused, citing his Constitutional rights, pointing that he was outside of the park, on a public right-of-way. The deputy left, and later brought back the Park Director, who told the pastor that he could not preach or distribute tracts in the park – it was against a city ordinance. Pastor Sheppard pointed out again that he was no longer in the park, but on a public right-of-way, and that the park director’s stance was unconstitutional.

Another pastor – Pastor Stine of Bethel Baptist Church - arrived, and was informed that he could not preach or distribute tracts in the park either. Stine had been doing this at the Independence Day event for several years, and was surprised at the restriction. He also wound up distributing tracts outside of the park.

The tracts were simply offered to people and not forced upon them, and all preaching was done by voice only, without the assistance of any electronic amplifiers.

The Process:

The issue was brought before the Inverness City Council at their regularly scheduled meeting July 21st. Their agenda provided time for Sheppard to speak, and contains letters between Sheppard and the Inverness city manager, Frank DiGiovanni, requesting time to address the City Council, as well as a letter from a law firm reiterating the legal protections found under the First Amendment.

Over seventy people attended the meeting – the majority to provide support for the pastor’s cause. Pastor Sheppard presented his case, including a listing of some city ordinances that were in conflict with county, state, and federal law. He also pointed out that the Sheriff’s Department had never harassed him before, but that his concern was that there was inconsistency in the laws of the city affecting public speaking, as well as a lack of training to so officers could provide a consistent answer to question relating to citizen rights.

Sheppard pointed out the incongruousness of the issue: the restriction of his rights occurred at Liberty Park, celebrating Independence Day.

The city attorney commented that some of the ordinances were of ‘dubious constitutionality’ and that he and the city manager planned to rewrite the city code. The Council was attentive and supportive in its statements – but deferred any decisions until the codes are rewritten.

The Concern:

They are two-fold:

One: What is the concern of the citizenry for maintaining their rights? The quote by Martin Niemoller, the pastor of a Protestant congregation in Germany who was imprisoned in a concentration camp during the reign of Adolf Hitler, comes to mind:
They came after the Jews,
But I was not a Jew, so I did not object.
Then they came after the Catholics,
But I was not a Catholic, so I did not object.
Then they came after the Trade Unionists,
But I was not a Trade Unionist, so I did not object.
Then they came after me,
And there was no one left to object.

While the clear majority of those at the City Council meeting were concerned and supportive, two thoughts come to mind:

-One lady – after Pastor Sheppard finished speaking and another gentleman asked if he could address the Council on the issue – whispered to her husband ‘Isn’t this ever going to end’, then proceeded to focus her attention on a grocery sales receipt for the next ten minutes. She was attending the City Council meeting for another agenda item.

-Where were the other pastors, deacons, church members of the area? Is this not a concern of theirs as well? Yet only two or three pastors came, and perhaps forty church members.

Two: Unlimited and unregulated power for any agency will result in the loss of rights and legal protection. I’m a strong supporter of law-enforcement and the work our officers do – but they are not always right, and some of them need to recognize that fact. Stubbornness, prejudice, and rash action took place over consideration of the rights and intent of the law – by those who should be enforcing it. My hat is off to the City Council for their attention and thoughts on the matter, and to the city attorney for his honest evaluation of the pertinent city ordinances and code, and to pastors Sheppard and Stine - as well as the other speakers - who were willing to defend their rights.

The story isn’t finished yet, and a final resolution hasn’t been reached. Only time will tell the final direction that this Civics in Action lesson will take.

Hopefully everyone will learn about the Constitution a little better than the person in this video clip.

As John Adams stated:

"But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

Essential Question: How can a local incident like this be used to teach civic rights and responsibilities to our students?


Bill of Rights


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Morphing Presidents

I was reading the Presidents Blog this weekend titled ‘Mighty Morphing Presidents’, and saw an article based on a video created by ‘poldivideo’ for YouTube. It’s rather neat, and could be used as an introduction to a unit on the Presidents. The YouTube title is “From George Washington To Barack Obama - A Long Way - Original Video”. Turn on your speakers and enjoy – it’s only four minutes long.
Mount Rushmore, on Wikipedia

Monday, July 20, 2009

Man Steps on the Moon - 40 Years Ago

We don’t seem to like to celebrate the fourth year, or eighth, or ninety-first anniversary of something. It seems as though if there is not a “0” as the last digit, it’s not worth celebrating.

Monday, July 20, is the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. It is a historic occasion – the record of which was almost lost to posterity. NASA released information in 2006 that the original data disks recording the event of man’s first steps on the moon had been erased years ago in order to reuse the disks.

Fortunately, history was preserved. Copies were found in the Johnson Space Center, a tracking station in Australia, and the archives of CBS News. Lowry Digital, a recording company in California, is in the process of digitizing the copies.

A sample of the digitized videos is on the NASA webpage – and the complete set of which will be released in September. There will eventually be about two and a half hours of video available.

A couple of other tidbits: The Daily Telegraph (UK) had an article on trivia about the landing that is interesting, as well two BBC News articles - one titled Weaving the Way To The Moon and the other titled Audio slideshow: Man on the Moon.

I remember watching on television (live) as Neil Armstrong decending the ladder from the Eagle to the surface of the moon. It was almost 10 PM Central time.

History has been preserved… but what lessons have been learned?

Essential question: What value can be placed on preserving documentation of the historic moon landing?


Landing Module Eagle: Wikipedia