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    Telling the Untold Stories

    October 5, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    If there is one thing I can say about teaching my children, it is that it keeps me humble. The more we learn, the more I realize how much we don’t know…how much I don’t know. And I am also struck about all the things I wasn’t taught. Lists of dates and names were substitutes for real history. “Original compositions” were substituted for reading and analyzing real literature. I learned…and yet I didn’t.

    My hope is that our children will not be able to say this about their own education.

    I already mentioned that we are studying the person of George Washington. We are reading books about him. Two days ago, we finished our first work, The Bulletproof George Washington. When we began, I really didn’t find it all that interesting. I was even willing to put it down and move on to one of our better books. But my son, after hearing the first chapter, talked about it all day.

    So we pressed on. And I am so glad we did.

    This is a tale I was surely never told, for I am certain I would have remembered it. Author David Barton tells the story of George Washington’s miraculous survival during the British defeat in the battle for Fort Duquesne {French and Indian War, folks}. There were accounts of at least two separate Indian sharpshooters saying that they both shot at him 15 and 11 times, respectively. They never miss.

    They missed.

    The Indians quit shooting at him after that because they believed he must be under the protection of the Great Spirit.

    Fifteen years later, an old chief, hearing that Washington was in his territory, traveled many miles to speak to him. Keep in mind this was long before America even knew she would one day have a President. This is what the old chief said through an interpreter:

    I am a chief and ruler over my tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man’s blood mixed with the streams of our forest that I first beheld this chief [Washington]. I called to my young men and said, mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red-coat tribe–he hath an Indian’s wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do–himself alone is exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for you, knew not how to miss–’twas all in vain, a power mightier far than we, shielded you. Seeing you were under the special guardianship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased to fire at you. I am old and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man [pointing at Washington], and guides his destinies–he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire. I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.

    Students graduate high school apathetic about this country not only because of the stories they are told, but also the stories they are never told.

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