Friday, October 8, 2010


A friend in high school began a patriotic club for young children called "Wee Americans." It seemed remarkable at the time that a busy high-schooler would dedicate their time to such an activity, and now it seems that perhaps more of us--youth and adults--could have benefited from some lessons on American civics, history and civility.

Patriotism and all that goes with it--national pride, tolerance of others, gratitude, courage, honesty, integrity--are not themes we can assume our children will learn through osmosis any longer. Parents will need to teach these principles the way our forefathers did, by example, by study, by discussions over the dinner table, and by loading the kids up and heading off to church and to where our history began.

"Oh Say Can You See," volume four of Free Men and Dreamers, revolves primarily around the events that surrounded the writing of the "Star Spangled Banner." Yes, it's a difficult song to sing, but once we know the story behind it . . . the whole story, it becomes so personal and beautiful.

Many of us know that Key watched the bombardment of Fort McHenry from a ship outside the Baltimore harbor, but do we know why? He was actually there to free a friend who had been taken prisoner. Wouldn't such a topic make a wonderful springboard for a discussion with our children about friendship and loyalty?

Key was a pacifist who was considering joining the ministry. What would cause such a man to write such powerful words as, "Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just?"

He was a loving father of a large family, a man enamored with his wife. When the British drew near Baltimore, Key sent his wife and children away from their Georgetown home for safety. Have we ever considered what must have gone through his mind as he said goodbye, knowing he was about to face that enemy? History becomes more personal when we break it down and reflect on the sacrifice of the individuals who shaped and preserved this country. That's what we need to share with our children. These are a few of the themes our characters experience in volume four of my Free Men and Dreamers series, "Oh Say Can You See."

I'm giving away a free book this week and every week as we promote the novel's late October release. This week, the winner can win either a copy of "Oh Say Can You See," or the wonderful children's book, "Let Freedom Ring!" filled with beautiful illustrations, documents, songs and stories about America. Our entry question is based on how families are passing this legacy on.

So, here's how you enter!

Leave a comment describing an experience you've had while teaching your children about America. Have you visited a fort or performed service at a historical site? Where was it and what was your experience? Or perhaps your "Wee American" moment involved watching a child lead a flag ceremony, or the feelings expressed during a family discussion about the meaning of a holiday. Perhaps yours is something completely different!

I'd love to hear it! Post your response before October 16 when the winner's name will be drawn. You must be a follower of this blog, or a Facebook follower to enter. So click, join and enter.



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