Sunday, October 5, 2008

When Current Events Make History

When I was three years old, my mother woke me up to watch Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon. As you might expect, I have no recollection of the day my Mom did this to me. (She mentioned it to me when I was older.) However, I can say with a straight face that I actually watched this historic event.

As parents, we’re more adept at seeing current events and recognizing their historical significance. Sports is one example, albeit a minor one. I remember coming in one evening with Andrew and flipping on the TV. I knew Mark McGwire was coming up to bat. He had already tied Roger Maris’s single season home record and was due to break it any day. I held Andrew in my arms as we watched McGwire hit 62, but he was too young to have a clue. Had he been older, though, I’m not sure anything would have changed. I remember, when I was kid, watching Hank Aaron break Babe Ruth’s record. I was several years older than Andrew was when I saw Aaron’s homer. I was happy, because Aaron was my favorite player. However, I didn’t understand the significance of what I’d just witnessed.

Then there’s politics. We had a current event a week ago, that will be noted in history: McCain and Obama debated on TV. Andrew has been studying the Civil War in school. He knows the reasons it was fought, as well as the battles, the technology, etc. For some reason, Reconstruction gives him problem. He gets terms mixed. (His test isn’t until Tuesday, so we have time to get it right.)

However, Andrew’s still a kid with a kid’s appreciation of current events. So, when the McCain – Obama debate came on, we tried to get Andrew (and his brother, Christopher) to watch it. For both boys, it was just to try and get them to understand we’re choosing a President. (When they pay attention to politics, both boys claim to be supporting McCain.) For Andrew, though, we tried to draw a correlation between his Civil War studies and what was going on in front of him. He said he understood. He gave us an hour of debate watching before boredom breached his senses and he called it night.

Hopefully, when he’s adult with an adult’s appreciation for history, he might recognize what we made him watch as a kid. Hopefully, when he’s an adult, he begins to recognize such events himself. Hopefully, when he’s an adult, he’ll pass the same things along to his kids.

And maybe, by then, events like the above will no longer be considered historic anymore.

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