This evening, while listening to Michael Berry, the “czar” of AM talk radio, I was reminded of one of the most precious memories I have regarding my 13 years of teaching American history. Mr. Berry made mention of a MLB Baseball player who left during the game he was playing to fly to Miami, I think it was Miami, to be sworn in as United States Citizen. I got goosebumps at the thought. I have many touching memories regarding my teaching career but today that story led me down memory lane. I got all teared up as I thought fondly on a the story that I’m about to share with you. In all honesty, I hadn’t thought about it in years, until this evening.
I am by no means trying to start a discussion or debate regarding the issue of illegal immigration or citizenship in this ramblin’. I have said from the beginning, you do you and I’ll do me, accepting each other along the way. I do have strong opinions on the topic, as do you I’m sure, but the point of my ramblings aren’t geared towards politics. I almost talked myself out of writing on this topic because I want to inspire not divide further on all things political. I’m hoping that you will find the story inspiring.
8th grade subject matter starts in 1607 within the confines of Jamestown, Virginia and carries on up to Reconstruction after the Civil War. Rich, fascinating history of the United States. Not always pretty, but ever so important for our students to understand and respect.
My students and I spent countless class hours discussing the Bill of Rights and the Constitution on a level that was applicable to an 8th grader. I served as the facilitator allowing them to form their own opinions. Painful at times but they needed to come into their own and not assume my thoughts and beliefs. I think discussing personal liberties protected by the U.S. Constitution was my favorite topic to teach every year. I often wonder if the class discussions would be different now than they were five or ten years ago.
One year, about halfway through my teaching career, a student asked me if we could meet after class because she needed to ask me a favor. Of course, I obliged. She went on to explain to me that after we talked in class about the path to citizenship and the Bill of Rights, she went home and talked to her mom, who was not a citizen at the time. The girl was a citizen due to the fact that she was born here in the United States. She was very proud of the fact that she could tell you that although her parents were not legal, she was because of the provisions of the 14th amendment.
She went on to ask me if I could help her learn more so she could teach her mother the content on the U.S. Citizenship Test. She told her mother all about citizens’ individual liberties that are protected by the Constitution and how important it was to her that she become a citizen.
I printed her a copy of the U.S. Citizenship practice test. Click on this link and see if you could pass the test. All of my 8th graders had given the test a shot a few days prior. Together, we discovered that most of the questions were directly tied to the content that they had been learning all year long.
This young lady was bound and determined to help her mother pass that test. She and I met after school a few days, answering the questions together. She would then go home and teach her mother U.S. history in Spanish.
The school year ended and I didn’t know if her mother had passed the test, let alone taken the test.
A few years later, the young lady made a point to come to Open House and let me know that her mother in fact had taken the test, passed it and had become a United States Citizen. She inspired her mother. She taught her mother the content. I can’t imagine the pride that she felt when her mother took the oath.
I am proud to be an American. I am blessed and am grateful for the freedoms that I have that are protected by our men and women in uniform. Much respect to them. In honoring those that serve, I will never stifle, be ashamed of, nor shy away from sharing my pride of country. I will however, do my best to tread lightly where others political or religious views are concerned. I don’t know about you but a dogmatic approach by someone has never made me think, hmmm, maybe they are right. Therein lies the beauty of this country. We can all have own ideals no matter how bat shit crazy they are.
It’s no secret that we as a nation are fractured, split right down the middle it seems. For all the bad stories that we are inundated with daily, I know there are a hundreds of positive stories that go unmentioned.
My wish for you is that you make a conscious effort to seek out the good stories. Make mention of them, not to further your political agenda or religious views but to restore faith in our citizenry and this nation. The nation is only as good as its’ people. I think we have some work to do.
I almost talked myself out of writing about this topic because I want to inspire not divide further on all things political. I came to the conclusion that it is inspiring.