February 27 – Recently sent a birthday card to Jim Krause, one of our former pastors when we lived back in Erie, PA in 1985. Although he and his wife Eileen have lived in Florida a number of years, we still keep in touch. His son and daughter were some of my students years ago, but they are still as dear as they were when they were pre-teenagers. Many good thoughts came to me as I wrote Jim’s card!
Through the years, after we had returned from Africa where I was teaching Standard 6, or eighth grade in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), I stayed home with our two kids until they were in their teens. Then, when the school board asked me to go back to teaching part time specifically, as the teacher of Grades 5-8, I thought it would be fun, as teaching had always been a joyful occupation. I accepted! I really could tell you lots of stories, mostly of happiness and joy as it should be in all grades, and in all classes.But because of the birthday card for Jim, I was reminded of the one year when there were so many birthdays in just a little over two months, from late January to early March. I couldn’t forget that time since our daughter Biz was born on Groundhog’s Day on February 2 with David arriving on the 27th. Two days inside the month and two days before the end! Moving on, Diane was born in the middle of January. In the month of February several of the kids were born. Our two already mentioned, plus Debbie, Kim, and Gordon. Then in early March Carol celebrated. I still try to keep in touch with my students of long ago, but don’t always make it.
For instance, I sent an e-mail birthday note to Gordon when he had already celebrated weeks before. However, as I check over recent e-mails, I find that he answered my congratulations with thanks on the next day. (An interruption to tell you about where “my kids” are now. Several back in the Pennsylvania area, where their parents lived, somewhere near home, one in Kansas, another sleeping in the grave in Missouri till Jesus comes back, another in Tennessee, and Texas, and I think the last is in southern Pennsylvania.)I have always had a difficult time as I have grown older, understanding why we can’t have a special day for both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln instead of just “Presidents Day”. How well I remember while I was still a kid in school that we celebrated both of their birthdays, and that on the actual day they were born, rather than just on Mondays. Of course, the stores could stay open all day to make a few extra dollars. Since then we have added Martin Luther King’s Day to the list. We always had special assemblies and celebrations for both Washington and Lincoln, with King added later.
While I was teaching, we spent a whole week studying the lives of those men. Before school began in the fall, I planned an entire special week of reading, writing, music, and art so that each student would remember some of the most important things that had happened in our country to make it great, to make it one that would welcome so many people from all over the world, and to help them realize how thankful they might be that they were receiving so many blessings day by day. We often enjoyed an assembly program where parents were invited to come to celebrate with us. Those kids in the classroom had been taught enough about their country that they knew they were blessed and hoped to stand tall for her.
How different is the atmosphere around many of our schools today than it was when I was growing up, or even when my school kids and our own two were adding a few years to their ages. Now that really wasn’t so long ago if we compare it to all of the history that had gone before. Our children have so much to distract them, to take their minds off the really important things that make such a difference in their lives.
This has been a rather disjointed bit of writing this time, but no matter where we look or what we hear, we know that something must be done to keep our dear country from going the way of so many nations before in history. Let’s do all we can to show them what an American can be, an American who loves instead of hates, and one who does his best to help all who need him!
I’ll close with one of my favorite songs which again reminds me of what we did first thing in our classroom. By the time school was over for another year, the kids knew all the words to all of the verses in our special songs we sang every day. Of course, The Star Spangled Banner came first but we also sang America the Beautiful, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, and this one, God Bless America by Irving Berlin… – CHRIS