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Teach Your Children Well
posted: September 12, 2007

I went to the opening of Ken Burns’ World War Two documentary called “The War” the other night in Waterbury Connecticut. My father and uncle are in some episodes and we got to see a preview of the fourteen hour series. Burns stated that there were two compelling reasons to get the documentary finished. One was the fact that one thousand WW2 veterans are dying everyday. Their stories are our national histories and heritage. The other reason was a statistic that frightened Burns. A sizable percentage of graduating high school seniors think that the US was allied with Germany to fight against the Russians. The teaching of history is being trashed at the risk of unimaginable consequences. Talk to your Fathers and Grandfathers. Ask them about their experiences. Get their stories so that their knowledge can live on. And teach your children well.

My uncle Raymond Leopold is in about four of the episodes. At 92 he did not forget one thing he experienced those many years ago. Unfortunately he died just last month but thank God Burn’s recorded his incredibly interesting and valuable story for history and for the rest of us.

8 comments
Harry Campbell September 12, 2007
Richard, Can't wait to see that. History does tend to take a back seat in our schools these days. I love teaching my kids about history, and after dropping out for a while I've recently begun reading to them again. I agree, about interviewing your parents and grand parents. I can't imagine what these folks from those years think of our culture today. Thanks, Harry
Robert Saunders September 12, 2007
I wanna hear more about the episodes your father and uncle are in, Rich. I'll definitely catch them when they run on PBS. That statistic about the school seniors is scary.
Stephen Kroninger September 12, 2007
Rest easy, my daughters can tell you who were the allied powers and the axis powers in WW2 and who were the leaders of each. They're nine. Learned that when they were eight.
rag September 12, 2007
Harry: When WW2 soldiers were sent over there in 1941 and until about 1944, they did not really understand what they were fighting for; it was when they started to liberate the concentration camps that they fully understood who and what their enemy was. They knew they had to rid this world of this enemy in order to protect the free and sane societies of earth. It was a traumatic experience for them but they won. When they returned they could not and did not want to talk and think about it. They just wanted to get on with the good life. I think the vets are hoping that the commander-and-chief can pull off a Hail-Mary at this point. There is a great line in the film where the soldiers were pinned down in Annzio and one of them prayed to God to come down himself, donít send Jesus, this is no place for a child.
Larry Ross September 12, 2007
My humble thanks to your father and uncle and all the rest of the brave soldiers who fought that noble war. The sad truth is that a sizable number of high school seniors probably don't even know the difference between Germany and Russia. L.
John Dykes September 12, 2007
Rich - Beautiful story... Sorry to hear about your uncle. I will watch the series. Did you hear the Miss Teen U.S.A. response to the question about why so few kids can find... the USA on a world map?? (I can give the You Tube link if you wish). At first funny, but it's really quite bleak....
Zina Saunders September 13, 2007
Scary statistic you quote, Rich, if true. I hope it's not. Fun picture, though!
Anita October 3, 2007
I just finished watching episodes 6 and 7 of the Ken Burns' series. Your uncle seemed to be such a profoundly intelligent, reflective soul. Indeed, thank God for this documentation of his memories and insights on WWII. I am going to try to watch the episodes I missed earlier as well. May your dear uncle Ray rest in peace.
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