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Peanut, "Wow, mom, now we can say we've been to all 50 states! What are we gonna do next?"

17 May 2009

Battle of Ft. Sumter

Being told there are 3 things a 1st-timer must do in Charleston (Charles Towne Landing, visit a plantation and take a carriage or trolley tour), we were surprised by our spontaneous boat trip to Ft. Sumter today. We're in cahoots that this should definitely be on the list for any 1st time visitor to Charleston!

Peanut and Little Man earned their 7th Junior Ranger badge and they

worked incredibly hard on it. The assignments were complicated and full of meaningless names and dates. We all received a good lesson on flags and cannons, but our goal (with or without earning the badge) was for them to have a good understanding of the basics:

1. There were tensions between the North and South long before the Civil War. (I'd like to note that tensions happens to be a complicated word to understand when you're 8, 6 and 4, along with the labels Union and Confederate.)

2. When Lincoln became president, South Carolina basically said, "We're outa here."

3. Problem! South Carolina wanted Ft. Sumter which they could see from their shore. The North had control of it and refused to leave. The leaders of each side were friends at the time so it was a horrible situation; they tried to be honorable to each other and in the end only one guy died (accidentally from a cannon misfire). The Unionists split.

4. The Battle of Ft. Sumter is important because it
essentially started the Civil War. Also, it was the longest battle in the Civil War (36 hours straight) and among the longest anywhere in modern warfare.

5. South Carolina won Ft. Sumter but the Unionists won the Civil War.

We also had to have a long discussion about the word "us" because the kids kept referring to "us" as the winners of the Civil War. I explained that
kids from South Carolina don't feel like "them"; they feel like "us", too. I knew they meant that we agree with the North, but somehow their use of the word really rubbed me wrong. Maybe it was just the tone?

I continued to explain that the word "us" was incredibly important to President Lincoln and I wanted them to understand why. He wanted the UNION more than anything in his life, and that's why he didn't remove the stars representing the southern states from the flag when the Civil War started. He wanted everyone to believe we could overcome this trial as a country, and continue to be a union despite our differences. This country is called the United States so that we can all be "us". Further more, we weren't even alive then, so we weren't "us" or "them".

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