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History, distance, and continuity

I was in a fifth grade classroom today (one of my favorite ones) and watched a History Channel DVD about the beginning of, and events leading up to, the American Revolutionary War with England.

It got me thinking (and my friends know how dangerous THAT is)! :-)

Some of my first thoughts were related to how the DVD, with its comments about what could be called “national character traits” of this diverse country, was a natural continuation of my blog entry yesterday about the “separation of powers” engineered by the founding fathers and some values that many Americans “believe in” and other Americans “profess to believe in.”

As I watched the faces of the kids, who were bleary-eyed from the time change to Daylight Savings Time and from a week spent in Nature Camp (fresh air and LOTS of hiking) at Camp Arroyo in Livermore, I thought about some of the places mentioned in the History Channel DVD, and how geographic distance would keep many of the kids from seeing these places (e.g., Lexington and Concord, MA) firsthand, at least for awhile. I have visited Boston, MA, and seen the Old North Church and the statue of Paul Revere. I have seen places in Ohio where some of the battles of the French and Indian War were fought and Quebec, Canada, the scene of the final battle. The History Channel DVD discussed the French and Indian War when summarizing some of the events that led to the American Revolution. I have seen the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA. I actually saw many of these places as a child and even more of them later. I can thank my parents, both deceased, for that.

I thought about the geographic isolation of California by deserts and ocean and mountains. Some European travelers are surprised by the distances involved in travel by land in the United States. I am amazed at the courage and endurance of pioneers who made the same trek in covered wagons.

I also thought about some of the schoolchildren whose families think that San Francisco (roughly an hour by car), and the Pacific Ocean (roughly the same) are vast distances away.

Then tonight, I read an email from Erik, a history major whose family has been in San Francisco for generations. His blog is here. We met Erik on Sunday, when he was in “period dress” (army fatigues of the World War I era, in this case) at Battery Chamberlin (above, 1, 2, and many more in the Stock Photo Table)) on Baker Beach, an artillery battery (and place for detonating undersea mines) that protected the Golden Gate. I told him that I had written a little (below) about Battery Chamberlin earlier, and that I want to stay in contact with regard to historical events and reenactments that may take place in San Francisco. Where I live, we do not always hear about such events, but since the Mission of Cheshire Cat Photo is “To showcase California through photography…,” I might want to photograph them, and I certainly want to tell all of you about them. And all of the schoolkids, too…!

Once again our “random walk” has taken us “full circle.” Stay tuned for future blog entries about historical reenactments and events in the beautiful “City by the Bay.”

“Battery Lowell Chamberlin (named after a Civil War veteran) on Baker Beach is the home of one of the few remaining “disappearing guns” (photo above and 1, 2, 3, 4 and others) used in World War I and thereafter. Battery Chamberlin is open on the first full weekend of every month, between 11 AM and 3 PM. The 50-ton M1905 6-inch-diameter-bore rifle on display is virtually indistinguishable from the M1903 rifle originally emplaced at the battery to defend the Golden Gate. The weapon sits on an M1903 “disappearing” carriage. The M1905 on display came from Battery Livingston, Fort Hamilton, Harbor Defenses of New York, and spent time at West Point before given to the Smithsonian Institution and finding its way to San Francisco. The name “disappearing gun” refers to the operation. When a lever was pulled, a lead counterweight dropped, and the aimed rifle was pulled upward to the firing position. After firing, the recoil dropped the weapon below the parapet for reloading (effectively hiding it from the view of enemy ships), and raised the lead counterweight to prepare for the next shot. The battery has no overhead protection from a later weapon of war, the airplane. A detailed discussion, by Chuck Wofford, of the history and technology of Battery Chamberlin, can be found here. I was fortunate to visit at a time when Battery Chamberlin was open, and I could participate in a tour.”

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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