Wednesday, November 16, 2016

American Revolution Road Trip: Minute Men National Historical Park

We had a long drive to Philadelphia on this day, but first, we hopped out of bed bright and early, packed our bags, found one more Dunkin' Donuts to get coffee and donuts from (even Syd, who clamored for Dunkin' Donuts every single one of the approximately eight billion times that we passed one, was finally over her obsession and ready to move out of Dunkin' Donuts land), and zipped over to Minute Men National Historical Park to see where the shot heard 'round the world came from.

What, you don't know that song?

Well, if you'd been traveling with ME you would have known it by now, considering how incessantly I sang it, but here. Listen to it 14,000 times real quick and you'll feel like we're on a road trip together:



We started in backwards order, with the North Bridge, because I just couldn't wait to see it:
I'd say that these are my brave Minute Men, but they're on the wrong side of the bridge... Let's kick those darned rebel butts, I guess?
Ah, here we are on the side of freedom and justice!



And here's where I have to tell you that all those times that my children are embarrassed of me are justified, on account of I have no problem singing, loudly, in public, and even forcing my more compliant child to sing with me, even though she is visibly uncomfortable at the singing. Loudly. In, god help us, public:



See? I'm not ashamed of myself at all!


This Junior Ranger book was another thoughtfully-created, challenging one:
The harder the kids have to work, the more excited they are to receive their badges.
I really liked this memorial to the fallen British soldiers. It reads, "They came three thousand miles and died to keep the past upon its throne: unheard beyond the ocean tide, their English mother made her moan."
Still traumatized by enforced singing, loudly, in public, the kid made this face when I said, "Go stand by the British soldier graves!!!"
We attended a Ranger program here on the musket, and were pretty excited that we got to see it loaded and fired:


The re-enactor doing this demonstration told us, before he began, that he could load and fire his musket in 20 seconds or less. He loaded and fired, and I videotaped it, and then he asked the crowd, "Okay, who timed me?"

I helpfully piped up, "Ooh, I did!"

"How long did it take?" he excitedly asked.

"Ummm... 31 seconds?"

The re-enactor was NOT super pleased, so I quickly said, "Oh, but I'm sure I started filming before the ranger said, "Prime and load." They both immediately jumped on that and reassured the crowd several times that that's what had happened.

(Psst! If you watch the video, you can totally see that's not what happened!)

On the walk back to the museum, Will was all, "Dude, why did you have to show up that poor musket guy?"

"I didn't know it would be such a big deal!" I insisted, as my entire family, who, I might add, are rarely any help at all when I put my foot in my mouth in public, laughed at me.

I liked seeing these complete soldier mock-ups, but I'm a little dubious at all the light shining on them. There's even sunlight coming in through an unshaded window! That's not how we preserve precious artifacts!

I suppose that they must be modern recreations, to be treated so, but still, do you really want to have to replace them every decade?
We had to loiter in this museum for a while, because we wanted to see the movie (we ALWAYS want to see the movie, except when we're at Independence Hall. Their movie is the worst one that I have ever seen anywhere), and there was already a school group settling in to watch it.

Side note: I was super jealous whenever we came across a school group on this trip, because their tour guides dress up in historically appropriate garb. How fun is that?!?

Anyway, as I was browsing the gift shop and checking out the small museum, I was of COURSE eavesdropping as hard as I could on the conversation between the kids' tour guide and the park rangers manning the place. The docent was busily telling them that this class of high school kids from a school about an hour away was special because their AP US history teacher had made the unheard-of decision to actually take them to all of the American Revolution sites within driving distance. It had never before been done in the history of the school, actually visiting these places, and many of the kids had never been to a single one before. And they'd had to do fundraisers, and the teacher had to justify his curriculum to the school board, etc. etc. 

What an awesome teacher. And what a shame that it wasn't already a given. I mean, we worked so hard to get to Minute Men National Historical Park, fourteen hours from home, just from studying the American Revolution with an upper elementary and middle schooler, that I can't imagine living an hour away from the place, AND studying the American Revolution with an AP US history class (or any history class, from preschool on up), and not simply going there. There should be someone taking these kids to all of these great places every year. 

Maybe the schools spend that time and money on standardized tests, instead?

Okay, off my soapbox. You know what I also like?

Miniature models of historic battles! I don't know who is making these things and putting them in national park museums all over the country, but I freaking love them:

I also love taking pictures of my family posing in those hole-for-your-face things. And I've discovered that these soldier ones are perfect for photographing my tween, who can't seem to take a photo without throwing me some shade these days:
Throwing some shade is very soldierly.
Because everything that seemed a long way away back then is just a short drive now, it took just a few minutes in the car before we were at the site where Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott were confronted by British soldiers, as the were on their way to warn everyone that the Redcoats were coming.

What better way to celebrate than with one more recitation of "Paul Revere's Ride?"


We learned about the National Highway WAAAAAY back at Fort Necessity (read up on it--it's interesting!), so it was especially cool that here it was also the Battle Road, where skirmishes between British soldiers, Minute Men, and even innocent civilians occurred as the British marched forward then fled backwards.
Racing along the Battle Road!

Here's a marker from the National Road. Paul Revere rode half the dang night to get to this place, and it's only 13 miles from where he began!
As we traveled all this week, we kept coming across people who were traveling New England, as well, not to see American Revolution sites (although that's where we all commingled), but to see the autumn leaves. And they were gorgeous! And so, as we walked along the Battle Road, when we came to this well-placed rock in front of a tree showing off its beautiful autumn colors, I convinced my more amiable kid to pose for me:

The other kid hung about, just off camera, looking less belligerent than usual, so I invited her to pose, as well.

And lo! She did! And she genuinely smiled! And she did not push, poke, or punch her sister in every single frame (just some of them)!

It's an American Revolution road trip miracle.

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