1619 project originator wonders why her father was so patriotic

Some parents object to schools teaching social philosophy theories to their children instead of facts.

An example: Nikole Hannah-Jones opens her 1619 Project essay "The Idea of America as follows:

My dad always flew an American flag in our front yard[.] ... I didn't understand his patriotism.  It deeply embarrassed me.  I had been taught, in school ... that the flag wasn't really ours, that our history as a people began with enslavement and that we had contributed little to this great nation.

I believe that her father would have explained his reasons to her thirty years ago.  Then he would have asked his school board to explain to him what they were teaching.  She writes that her father grew up in Iowa, and in 1962, at age 17, he "signed up" for the Army.  

Like Hannah-Jones's father, I "volunteered" for the Army and in 1962 served during the Cuban missile crisis.  Like her father, I took 1950s-era American history in a public high school.  I learned to love our country and that volunteering for military service and respect for our flag are good.

My 1950s history class used a book that provided the names of people and places, and dates, and described the "big picture."  During the class, my teacher would read passages from other books to make it real, then have students discuss the meaning and think of the significance and alternatives.

Not knowing anything about Iowa's effort in the Civil War, I looked in The Civil War State by State (2011), by Chester Hearn, and learned that Iowa furnished 51 Infantry regiments and a total of 76,242 troops.  Of these, 3,540 were killed or mortally wounded, 8,498 died of disease, and 963 died of other causes, for a total of 13,001 (p. 148).  Three hundred forty-four of these fatalities were black Americans.

Seventeen percent of the troops from Iowa who served our country under the Stars and Stripes sacrificed their lives to abolish slavery!  Additional volunteers sacrificed arms or legs.  

During Nikole Hannah-Jones's father's history class, they may have discussed that in the Civil War, the Regimental Flag and Reports proudly proclaimed that it was "Volunteer."  They would have discussed the difference between volunteering for military service and "being ordered to report to."  In the 1860s, men volunteered knowing that surgeons "operated" without any anesthetics, antiseptics, or antibiotics!  Volunteers knew they would be marching for months through all kinds of weather, carrying all their equipment, "dry" clothes, and bedrolls.  You see the type of questions to start and guide these discussions.

His class may also have discussed the distinction between killed and mortally wounded and the effect of lack of training in their weapons.  So many healthy volunteers died from disease because armies did not follow today's standards for camp hygiene, sanitation, drinking water, cooking, or even a healthy diet.  Other volunteers died because cavalry could not follow civilian "safe riding practices," and in the artillery, heavy cannons and ammunition wagons had to move fast even when they were off-road.  Sentries and guards would be active all night and fall on steep slopes in unfamiliar terrain.

I believe that Hannah-Jones's father would join me and other veterans encouraging today's parents to require their schools to teach historical facts.  Students should learn the sacrifices their states' citizens made to abolish slavery.  Telling when and where their states' volunteers died makes their sacrifices real.  Memorial Day has been a holiday since 1868 and reminds us of the volunteers who died without a descendent.  Today's students should feel proud of their heritage and want to make their own contribution to the common good.

Nikole Hannah-Jones was embarrassed by her father's patriotism.  Today's students are ashamed because they are being taught in school that their families and America were bad and continue to be bad.  School boards should ensure that schools are teaching children the facts unifying the United States of America and prevent teaching theories whose purpose is to divide the American people.

Image: Pashi via Pixabay, Pixabay License.

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