Kids don't learn American history in Ireland

Sometimes I forget that my children don't learn American history in school. Makes sense, of course, that in Ireland the schools focus on Ireland's history and not America's. It's just that I forget at times.

I tend to realize this most when we visit places that are important in American history. I find myself answering questions on the basics, the types of things Americans learn and absorb from a young age.

I try to compensate for this short-coming in their learning by talking to them about American history whenever the opportunity presents itself, such as the trip to West Point. And I like to seek out places of American historical interest to visit.

I grew up near Saratoga and Lake George (French & Indian War) so we've been to those places. We've also gone to Philadelphia, Boston, Fall River, MA (Battleship Cove - my son loved it) and a few other places. Also, we have been to a couple of places that most Americans never get to - Bastogne in Belgium (Battle of the Bulge, WWII) and the area around Chateau Thierry in France, where the American army was involved in WWI.

However, I don't remember ever buying them any books that might help spark the interest in American history and I'm learning that this might have been a big mistake.

While we were in America last week my brother gave my son a gift of a book called 'Chasing Lincoln's Killer' by James L. Swanson. It must be a tremendous book because my son can't stop talking and asking about Lincoln and his assassination. The questions are coming at me morning, noon and night.

"Is Ford's Theater still there? I understand why they wanted to kill the Vice President, but why did they want to kill the Secretary of State? Is Secretary of State Seward's home still there? Booth had to fool the army guards on the Navy Yard Bridge to get out of Washington. Is the Navy Yard Bridge still there?" Unfortunately, my answer to all of the questions has been "I don't know." {Google has since answered them for me, other than the one about Secretary Seward's house.}

And boy does he ever want to visit Washington (and any place connected to Booth's escape route and Richmond, Appomattox, Fredericksburg, Antietam, Gettysburg, etc.). I haven't been to Washington since I was there in '95 for a wedding. My last proper visit - seeing the sights and so on - was in 1990.

Now I'm feeling guilty that my teenage daughters haven't been, almost as if I've neglected my duty as an American parent. I'll have to figure out how to get them to Washington (and a one or two other places in the area) for a few days. In the meantime I will definitely keep my eyes and ears open for more books that might interest my children in the story of America. All suggestions are welcome.


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