Monday, July 13, 2009

Of Muskets and Memories, Part One

First of all, I just have to say how weird it is to be absent from the blogosphere for two weeks! But I'm back now, well-rested, museum-ed out, and with those few extra pounds that creep on when Rum Swizzle becomes one of your main food groups... and s'mores becomes the other.

We had the opportunity to go to Philadelphia during our vacation, and I am so glad we did. We ate lunch at the highly recommended City Tavern, and loved it, in part because they actually let us in early when they saw us hanging around.

From Philadelphia

Also, the server, dressed in Colonial period clothes, happily played Rock, Paper, Scissors with Owen, and how can you not love that?

We spotted this sleeping lion as we walked toward Independence Hall:

From Philadelphia

And then came one of the highlights of the whole trip. It started small, with just a fife and drumming in the distance. Then we turned a corner, peeked into a large green space, and this gentleman waved us in:

From Philadelphia

A captain in the Continental Army he turned out to be, and guess who was one of his most enthusiastic recruits?

From Philadelphia

Yes, that is Luke there on the far right side. Here is my absolute favorite picture from our trip, and possibly ever:

From Philadelphia

The bayonet charge - I think largely because of this, the Captain field-promoted Luke to Corporal!

From Philadelphia

From Philadelphia

Special red 'corporal' musket in hand, new stripes fluttering in the breeze, you can almost see Luke thrumming with excitement in this picture. Talk about bringing history alive...

From Philadelphia

Owen was somewhat less-inclined to run off and join the Army.

In all honesty, Independence Hall was kind of a penultimate experience after all the excitment of the muster. And, I kept cracking up because, whenever I looked at the actual chairs where our Founding Fathers sat, I could think only of Susan at In The Kitchen's recent post about Thomas Jefferson, poking gentle fun at his future countrymen for revering these relics from the past.

From Philadelphia

Truly though, my best memory of Philadelphia came as we were heading back to our car. While waiting for a light to change, Corporal Luke tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a homeless person sitting on the ground up next to a building behind us. His sign read "Homeless Vet, Any Help Appreciated." Luke's big eyes looked meaningfully from me, to the man, and back to me, until finally I asked, "would you like to give that man some money?" Wordlessly, he shook his head yes and when I handed him some change (I wish, so much, that it had been more), Luke walked back over to the man and solemnly placed the money in his cup. The man looked up to him, nodded his thanks, and then over to me, and nodded once more - the combination of gratitude and pride in his expression nearly brought me to tears.

I was raised to ignore the homeless - but, I must note, I was also raised to feel empathy for them, and to help them by other means, with donations to charities, shelters, and soup kitchens. I think my folks feared for my safety and also felt that any money I gave to a homeless person on the street would go to support a drinking habit, and would therefore be a waste. But this man, and my son's earnest desire to help him, caused me to feel ashamed at how blithely I had walked past him.

I am so thankful that Luke did not follow his mother's lead.


topsytechie said...

We have a couple of those great photos ourselves from visiting local reenactments. Priceless!

Check out this recent blog post by my hubster to see why your reaction to Luke's request is so incredibly moving and indelibly important:

The Stone Age Techie said...

Topsy, what can I say? Wow, oh wow.
What a very important and amazing job your husband does.
Thank you for sharing his post.

sgaissert said...

So you went to Philadelphia -- you were quite close to me! Visit Trenton, and you'll be even closer. The kids will enjoy Washington's Crossing State Park, the Old Barracks, Trent House, and the other historic buildings in Trenton, and you can gain weight eating authentic Chambersburg (that's the Italian section of Trenton) tomato pie - nothing like it!

And, in Trenton, you're close to Princeton, which is also full of great things to see. Come visit me!!

Susan said...

Fabulous photos! I'm cracking up about you thinking of my story of TJ's desk. Greta, actually, was gaga over the sun chair (because it had come up in many a story we had listened to). And for some reason we were all excited about the 13 desks in the room, one for each colony (and then state). What can I say, we are people who go in for office furniture, even the kids when they are in the right mood. And if I may...Indpendence Hall is indeed rather boring compared with a muster, but every time you return to study of the Constitution, and every 4th of July, your kids can say: we stood where it all happened. Such a shame they don't let you touch the chair where George sat. :)

Oh, and we loved that lion, too! Rather a lazy guardian.

Firefly mom said...

What a fabulous trip! Travel makes the best field trips :) I went when I was a kid (oh, so long ago ;) I would love to take my son, the war buff, there.

Your parents sound a lot like my mother and her family. My grandmother *still* tells the story of the "ungrateful bum" (her words) that refused to pick up the handful of pennies she threw in his face - proof (to her) that they're all scam artists. Your son is lucky to have such a warm-hearted mom :D

The Stone Age Techie said...

Susan in Trenton - I would love to! The next time we go down that way, we will totally visit you :-)

Susan of the desk - now I am thinking of how cool it is that, separated by only a few weeks, you and I stood in more or less the same spot and considered the same lion! That is just so cool.

Firefly Mom - I am lucky to have such a warm-hearted son, too. And for the record, my folks have a lot of sympathy for people who are down on their luck; I really think they taught us to walk on by more for our safety, and because they'd rather donate to a charity or somewhere that they feel sure their money will be well-used. I didn't intend to imply that my parents are cold or unfeeling, they are the opposite.
Thinking of American war sites, I know you will love my next post about where we went after Philadelphia: Gettysburg! I am a Civil War buff, and so it was very, very moving to me.

Thanks all for reading - it's good to be back!

Susan said...

I had that feeling, too...not just about the lion. We also ate at City Tavern. It was so nice to revisit those places from a different perspective. I can't wait for your Gettysburg post. I am thinking Civil War for our next trip. I checked out a big beautiful picture biography of Lincoln's life yesterday with lots of primary sources. Now that I have discovered that September is the magic time to travel I am itching to go this September. Please share any Civil War resources you think are great for kids.

Latte Lady said...

I have a special place in my heart for the homeless. God takes us through trials so that He can humble us.

If it were't but for God's grace, we wouldn't have a basement to live in....

....we would have a bench or an alley.

I LOVE Yeshua!!!

Dana @ Our Sunny Side said...

What a wonderful experience for Luke! My son is going to love the pictures and beg me to take the trip. Philadelphia is on my list. As is Gettysburg. Looking forward to that post too!

Rana said...

We did a trip like this to Boston when I was in the 6th grade. Many moons ago. I will never forget any of it. I hope to take the twins one day. You all look like you had a great vacation.