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Back to School Lessons From a Historic Event

Not all lessons children learn are taught inside the classroom.

Ok, I’ll admit it. I am likely the only mom in my town who didn’t realize that school begins next week.

Yes, I knew that, traditionally, we always begin before Labor Day and, yes, I knew that it wasn’t far away. But, even so, I was absolutely shocked when another mom at the football field this evening mentioned the first day of school. Like many of the kids in town I guess I was simply in denial.

As crazy as it sounds I don’t look forward to “back to school.”  I said it last year and I will say it again this year. I love summer vacation. I enjoy the freedom, the chance to hang out with my son and, frankly, the lack of homework and the early morning race to the school bus.

That’s not to say, however, that I don’t value education. I have always taken pride in being a “hands on” mom when it comes to homework and studies and, frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I take pride in “teaching” my son but, reality is, not all lessons happen in the classroom.

As a mom I’ve learned that many of the lessons that we teach don’t require books, pencils or reading material. Last Sunday was the perfect example.

Looking for a little fun on a Sunday, we headed into South Boston to spend time at Castle Island watching the USS Constitution take to the harbor under full sail. Honoring the Bicentennial of her victory over the HMS Guerriere in the War of 1812, The Constitution set her sails, entered the harbor, turned towards Fort Independence and returned for a 21 gun ship to shore salute. 

All in all it was one of the most amazing and inspiring events I have ever seen. The USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, is a majestic beauty that serves a reminder of the true grit and dedication that makes this nation special. Her flag flew high and her 21-gun salute drew cheers from the crowds on land as well as those gathered in the harbor on boats. 

Frankly, the response from spectators cheering and boats blasting their horns was far more deafening than even the guns themselves. Without a doubt it was an awe inspiring event.

Above and beyond that, for me, South Boston represents my own family history. It’s the place where both of my parents grew up, met, married and chose to start a family. It’s the place where I visited my extended family every weekend and heard stories of our own unique history. South Boston is where I heard tales of my own father’s athletic triumphs and his award winning career as a handball player. South Boston is my history as well as my son’s.

Each and every time we visit I am reminded of the fact that, frankly, we do not spend enough time there.  I remind myself that family history is equally as important as American history and promise to do a better job of mixing the two. 

I tell myself that, sometimes, we all need to slow down and teach the small lessons. We need to pay attention to the lessons that aren’t necessarily learned in a classroom. We need to spend times on those that are passed on from generation to generation.

Is it easy? Absolutely not. Is it our responsibility? Well, if you look at it like this mom it, most certainly, is.

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