Monique Doyle Spencer: Crash course in US history

Roundup: Talking About History

[Monique Doyle Spencer is author of "The Courage Muscle: A Chicken's Guide To Living With Breast Cancer." ]

IT'S A GOOD thing the school year is finally over. It's the Fourth of July and we don't need seventh-graders ruining our holiday by doing homework.

Why? Because they study American history, and they want your help. "Hey Mom, quiz me on the Bill of Rights," they say. You ask, "Well, who signed the Bill of Rights?"
Your child roars with laughter. "That's the Declaration of Independence and John Hancock, Mom."
"Just testing you, son, ha-ha," you say, but you are sweating now.

"Mom, what does inalienable mean? Dad, Why didn't they like King George? Mom, which George was it, II or III? What happened at the Old State House? What was the Stamp Act?"
Some of it comes back to you. The Boston Tea Party. The Boston Massacre. Valley Forge. You remember fearing, very secretly, that you might have been a Tory. You really hoped you'd be a Minuteman, or maybe a scout, or a messenger, outwitting the Redcoats. You'd never admit you had an inner Tory, which is kind of like an inner neo conservative, not that I mean anything bad by that.

Somehow I became one of those people who doesn't know who's buried in Grant's tomb. If they caught me on those TV ambush interviews, and they asked me who Thomas Jefferson was, I would say, "Wasn't he George and Weezie's nephew?"...

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