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Home School Life Journal ................................................................................................................painting by Katie Bergenholtz

President's Day

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How do you celebrate President's Day?
There are a mass of crafts for this day, and I did them with my older children when they were young because that is what is done in public schools. This year I thought about what I wanted my young boys to understand about this day. Why are Washington and Lincoln the presidents honored in particular this day?
It is true that they were presidents of note partly because of the times in which they were president -the forming of a new nation and the keeping of that nation as a whole -but mostly because they weathered those times well because of their character. Learning about these presidents can be good lessons in how to be good moral persons in general. We can read to our children stories of why these men were great men. We can read to them stories that speak of Washington's humility, faith in God, perseverance and compassion. Such stories, too, can be told of Lincoln.

"No story in American history has captured the popular imagination better than that of Abraham Lincoln’s youth. A poor boy growing up in what was then a remote area, enduring the tragic death of his mother at an early age, confronting the realization that he had no inclination to become a farmer like his father. Abe was a thoughtful boy, independent but not rebellious, tall and strong but not a bully, sensitive but not a sissy. We like the story of a poor boy who made good. But I wonder how much longer his story will seem comprehensible to young Americans. The means by which he achieved his goals may seem foreign to twenty-first century Americans. Lincoln did not get ahead by going to the right schools, or by cultivating the right patrons, by achieving high standardized test scores, or by seizing upon a popular fad. He did not seek celebrity. What is more, not only the means but even the end itself of Lincoln’s quest for self-realization may not be readily comprehensible to us anymore."

And this is why it is important to take time out of our regular studies to turn to these men. I want these concepts to be comprehensible to my young men. The most well-known story about Washington, however, is one that probably didn't  happen at all -the legend of his ax and the cherry tree.


Even in this, though, we can tell our young ones that this story, although probably not true, speaks of what we know of his character in general to be true.

And, so today, like many others are doing as well, we made cherry tarts but as well as making them, we are also made sure we don't stop there for that is just the cherry on top the story of his life.
This is a re-posting from 2011.

5 comments:

  1. I always assumed it was Washington and Lincoln, because of where their birthdays fell. But, we did discuss what was significant about both their presidencies, and how often it's war time presidents who are remembered with fondly - like fathers leading us through hard times - which then took us into a discussion of Reagan, and why he is so well remembered.

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  2. Okay, so I didn't comment like I thought I had. I swear my head sometimes.

    What a wonderful way to think about this, and what a great thing to bring in the character of those presidents. I totally had not thought of it that way.

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  3. Thanks for the inspiration! http://pebblekeeper.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/benefits-of-blog-readingpresidents-day-cherry-cheese-cake/

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  4. I love what you wrote about Abe, and Leah's comment. While we kept our study simple due to Selena's age, I am going to note this post for future reference down the road.

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  5. I thought often how unlikely it would be for Lincoln to get from poverty to presidency in modern day America. Our ways of life and politics have changed and not always for the best.

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