American History Lesson

One can overdo the exceptionalism of our country, and yet it is still something worth taking pride in. Here in Philadelphia, I try to make sure my kids understand just how unique and great America's history has been. Perhaps they are a little young to get it all (when I asked Jada if she knew what the Civil War was about, she parroted a statement I had made to her earlier: "three branches of government?"), but early exposure is a good thing.

So I took Saturday morning of this past Fourth of July holiday weekend to take the downtown. First, we hit the National Constitution Center (kids are free all summer!), took in the spine-tingling "Freedom Rising" show, got sworn in as president, and learned about the aforementioned three branches of government. We also made Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam hats; the kids love their crafts. Next, we crossed the street to Franklin Square to take in the Civil War 150 Road Show and learned about Pennsylvania's intersection with the great "War between the States." The kids and I are suckers for stereoscopes of old images. Finally, we hit Chinatown just as a block party was getting underway. Love that there's a place in our city whose Chinese roots date back to the 1800's. (Sweet pastries for 75 cents are cool to have access, too.)

Time will tell whether America's future is worth celebrating, but its history is worth steeping in. And of course Philadelphia is a great place for steeping. Lucky kids.

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