Monday, October 18, 2010

Patriotic Grace by Peggy Noonan

Yes, I finally finished it.

I don't even want to think about how long it took me to get through this 191-page book.  The delay is not because it wasn't interesting but because I have 2 children, a husband, I homeschool, teach dance classes, plan our town parade, do the laundry, dishes, clean the toilets, and, and, and...  Heck!  It took me 2 weeks just to get to the last 3 pages.  After reading a post from Sally quite a few months ago, I decided I would start reading again.  I hadn't read anything since Brandon was born because, well, WHO HAS THE TIME!?!  But, I realize the importance of reading and so I picked up a book.  Yes, it took me MUCH longer than usual, but who's keeping track?  And would it matter if someone was?  The point is, I am reading again.  And I don't care how long it takes me to get through a book.

Peggy Noonan also authored the story I listened to recently, When Character Was King.  About Ronald Reagan.  Excellent.

A few little blurbs from Patriotic Grace (let's face it, with a title like that I figured it couldn't hurt to read it. Lord knows I can come across like a Mack truck, so a little patriotic grace sounded...gracious.)...

Peggy spends a decent amount of time pondering 9/11.  In an account about Todd Beamer, she mentions his phone conversation from the doomed plane with an Airfone operator and how he ended The Lord's Prayer with her and his next & last recorded words were, "Let's roll."
Peggy:  People are often stronger than they know, bigger, more gallant than they'd guess.
About our ignorance of history:
The young of our country--and, again, our newest Americans, members of the great wave of immigrants of the past twenty-five or so years-need to know they are part of a continuum, a human continuum of great meaning and worth.  If they are taught a love of country it will  help them respect themselves-it will help them to know they are connected to that, they are a part of that, they are another expression of the continuum.  In a crunch-in a terrible moment of history-we will benefit from a renewed patriotic sense, and thank ourselves for having encouraged it.  A shared sense of pride in who we are and what we've been will help us see each other as...the same.  That sameness will be a real glue in a tearing time.  ..."American amnesia" 55 elite universities found over a third couldn't identify the U.S. Constitution as establishing the division of powers in our government; 40 percent couldn't place the American Civil War in the correct half century; and two-thirds didn't know what the word "Reconstruction" referred to.  "Citizens kept ignorant of their history are robbed of the richness of their heritage... A nation that does not know why it exists, or what it stands for, cannot be expected to long endure... We cannot expect that a nation which has lost its memory will keep its vision."  But another part of what I'm saying is that we have to teach our history with more love.  In our schools, the deadening history textbooks our children are forced to read, with their leaden prose and utter lack of aliveness to life, to its depth and meaning, tend to remove the person from history.  But history is human.
Oh, isn't this my heart as I teach my children the truth?  How can one read history and not let it thrill you to your core?  It is deeply emotional and beautiful and ugly and dreadful and victorious.  Real life, history is far more exciting than anything we could dream up even with our own most-radical imaginings.  The best stories are those of true heroes, true villains, danger, despair, salvation, victory.  Because we are a character in this story.  Will we live up to our part?  Will we be inspired by heroes of the past?  Squanto, George Washington, Rosa Parks, Todd Beamer, the fireman rescuing victims from a burning building, soldiers on the front lines of the battle, policemen who risk their lives every day never knowing what the next moment might bring their way, a little child's fight with cancer, an old woman's bravery with the same...we are surrounded by heroes.  My husband is a hero who defends citizens every day.  My mom is a hero caring for the medical needs of someone she does not know.  My sons are heroes making their plans of how they will protect me from mountain lions with slingshot in hand as we go on a short hike.  You are a hero.  History is so exciting.

Yes, our government revisionist history is killing the truth.
America has to learn to make things again.  Once, we were a great industrial nation; now we are a great information age nation.  There used to be more Americans who could build a small house than stand up and speak in public (or blog...ouch!).  Now, it's the other way around.  We are great talkers.  More of us have to learn to make things again.  ...if I were president I would decree that Shop and Home Ec be returned to the American public schools...  My twenty-one year-old son's friends will probably be businessmen, lawyers, teachers.  Good, they'll all be needed in the future.  But so will carpenters, builders, welders of steel, people who can pour a foundation, people who make things.  Including a meal.  Is it not in our national interest to encourage such education?
So, there's a little teaser.
Bless you!

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