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  • July 2008
    M T W T F S S
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Countdown to the 4th of July!

4th of July, already?! It seems like yesterday that we were braving snow and sleet. Oh, wait, it pretty much WAS yesterday. The higher parts of Colorado were still getting snow well into June…it feels like we skipped from winter straight into summer. Not that I’m complaining!

I LOVE the 4th of July. Not just because of the BBQ’s, neighborhood parades, and fireworks. I love American history. My kids have kindly indulged my nerdy obsession and one of the most fun parts of our unschooling experience (for me!) has been sharing my American Studies background with them.

In fact, it was Benjamin Franklin who inspired us to let our passion and interest guide the way of our studies, rather than a set curriculum.

None of this is to my point for this post. When I sat down to write this, I’d just been looking through some pictures from our trip to Williamsburg. We took part of a day to drive around the Yorktown Battlefield…where the final battle of the Revolutionary War took place.

The week we were at Williamsburg just happened to correspond to the week that the joint French and American troops marched from Williamsburg to Yorktown, where the British were encamped and waiting fresh troops and supplies shipped down the York River from New York. In fact, we saw the reenactment of Generals Rochambeau and Washington inspecting their troops before the big march. (Rochambeau on the left, Washington on the right.)

Washington and Rochambeau

Continental Soldiers show off:


The next day, we drove around the Battlefield Tour Road which was a really amazing drive. Most of it looked like this, with the trees providing a sheltered roof beside the wide open battlefields.


We happened on a clearing where a white cross was standing.


I jumped out of the car to see what it was memoralizing.


I used my rusty high school French to make an educated guess about what the plaque said. Here’s my best translation:

Here lies 50 unknown French soldiers killed at Yorktown for the independence of America.

In an age of ‘Freedom Fries’ and ‘Freedom Toast’ I think it’s important to remember we didn’t get here by ourselves. In the case of France, they gave us a professional Navy and an entirely professional fighting force at a time when we had neither. They gave us upwards of 56 million pounds to finance our war (a debt that would influence the French Revolution) and lost an estimated 10,000 men in our service.

If not for France, we might be celebrating our independence in an entirely different way.

Here’s a question the kids and I have been mulling over, from a great little question book called Kidchat: American Adventure!. It’s a small little book that gives American trivia facts and then asks open ended questions to get a discussion going. I eat this stuff up with a spoon. Happily, so do my kids. So, here’s the fact for today:

“In the Declaration of Independence, there were twenty-seven separate grievances, or complaints, listed against the king of England, George III.”

Now discuss amongst yourselves:

*What do you complain about more than anything else? Why?
*If you were a king or queen, what one thing would you do for all your subjects to make their lives better?
*If you could get everyone in the world to stop complaining about one thing, what would you want it to be?
*Kings and Queens are known for waering crowns. If you could design your own crown, what would it look like and what would it be made of?