I’m Back, with a Dose of American History 101.1
Part 1 of “My Life Among Eighth Graders.”
I’ve done a great deal of traveling in my time — mostly on Disney-related business — but I’d never taken a trip focused completely on historical sites. I’ve worked in quite a few museums and monuments at the front and back end of business trips, but this was a first: all history, all the time.
My traveling companions for the journey? My daughter Emily and 73 other eighth graders, with a smattering of teachers, administrators, chaperones (including your’s truly) and bus drivers thrown in for good measure. The weather was amazing for nearly the entire trip (more about that later), which really added to the enjoyment of our extremely edifying educational experience.
Our first stop was at Jamestown, site of the first permanent English colony in America (If you know what happened to those folks in Roanoke, please drop me a note). We had the opportunity to be there on the colony’s 400th Anniversary, and saw recreations of the village, the fort, even the ships the colonists had sailed in across the Atlantic.
A full scale (yes, it was that small) replica of the Susan Constant, one of the three ships which brought the colonists west.
The historical recreations were augmented by commentary from docents who accompanied each group, and by costumed re-enactors, who described life as it was for the colonists in all aspects of the daily grind (and it WAS a grind…these people struggled to survive), from cooking and hunting to culture and government. There is also a fine museum on-site.
Emily and me outside the Museum/Bookstore/Cafe
After Jamestown, we traveled a short distance down the road to Yorktown, site of the decisive 1781 battle between the British troops and the soon-to-be Americans (with an assist from the — surprise! — French). And even though the French were led by Lieutenant General de Rochambeau, there’s no truth to the rumor that the battle outcome was decided by a vigorous game of rock-paper-scissors.
It was here that Lord Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington after their escape route down the York River was eliminated due to the sub-zero weather. The river froze, and they’d forgotten to pack their ice skates.
The Battlefield at Yorktown, much less populated than it was in October of 1781. This may have been the largest open field these students (not pictured) from Southern California had ever seen.
In a slightly more interesting photo, here I am posing against a redoubt (My usual doubters were not available)
Emily narrowly misses a classmate while manning a cannon at Yorktown
Next: Off to Colonial Williamsburg
For Part 2, Click HERE