The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

After our meal at the food truck, we took off for our next destination, which happened to be the reason Lauren wanted to visit D.C.: The Air and Space Museum! We didn’t have very far to walk to get to it from the Holocaust Museum. As we entered, we were nervous about Mitchell’s Swiss Army knife (yes, this is the third post about Monday, March 6, so we still had the knife). Terry thought he would see if the museum allowed it. As soon as Terry emptied his pockets at security, a stout looking guard came over and told Terry, “Follow me.” Terry hadn’t even gotten his things from the x-ray belt! The guard led him to the door, opened it, and said, “Get out. We don’t allow any of that in here.” Fortunately, Terry was able to stash it outside somewhere and re-enter. I was holding his cell phone, keys, and billfold, hoping he could get back inside. It was at that moment that I felt a tinge of hatred for our nation’s capital. It might have also been the extreme fatigue setting in, too.

There was no coat check at this museum, which meant we were stuck carrying them because it was warm inside. Lauren instantly honed in on a tour that was about to start which took you through the highlights of the museum. She and Mitchell went on that tour while Terry, Leslie, Laci, Matt and I went on our own “Basham style tour”, meaning, we just went to the places that interested us, and we went quickly. This was not the favorite museum for the younger ones and *cough cough*me*cough cough*. I visited this museum when I was 18, and that was enough. I am not a math or science person, and this museum is all about math and science. They have engines hanging from the ceiling. Engines. That is about as interesting to me as if they had a display of paint drying. But Lauren loved it, so we found things to love, too. Here are a few photos of our day:

I really did love seeing the actual Spirit of St. Louis, the plane in which Charles Lindbergh flew the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic. This was here when I was a teenager, so it felt like seeing an old friend.

Still taking turns taking pics! Here is Terry with this famous aircraft. They also had several of the Lindbergh’s things, such as clothing and flight instruments, etc.

We enjoyed seeing the display area about Amelia Earhart. They had several of her personal artifacts.

There was a neat section about Jimmy Doolittle, who not only served our country valiantly in World War II, but he competed in races, and won, in his early career.  I didn’t know airplane races even existed. Pretty interesting.

This little hideaway was in the Jimmy Doolittle area.

Matthew loved the Space Shuttle we got to walk through. Here he is standing next to an astronaut as he is working. This was a very small exhibit, and nothing was hands-on, so that made it less exciting.

I just liked this huge hot air balloon.

Laci is inserting herself into a serious conversation about navigation.

They have an old airplane from the 60’s that you can walk through. The cabin was huge and the seats were padded and comfy, with lots of legroom! It’s amazing people used have such luxury when flying coach. And just look at a typical meal you could enjoy on a long flight! Thos were the days. *sigh*

As we were leaving, I got this photo of Lauren and Mitchell with a display of one the ladies featured in the movie Hidden Figures, which Lauren saw and loved.

Lauren happily reported that the tour of the museum was amazing. Mitchell was mildly entertained. Lauren enjoyed hearing the little-known facts about all sorts of flying machinery. In fact, she decided to forego visiting the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History with us a few days later so she could go back alone to the Air and Space Museum. I think she would go yet again if she had the chance. I was disappointed that the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first Atomic bomb, is no longer featured at this particular museum. It’s now at one located in Chantilly, Virginia. I enjoyed seeing that when I came as a teenager and wanted to show the kids.

Terry took the three youngest kids on a three-minute flight simulator machine that let the kids do the driving. It even flipped upside down! They got to “shoot” at enemy targets and steer their “plane”. I could hear their squeals of delight ten feet away. It was definitely the highlight for them. It only lasted three minutes, but they thought it had to have been ten minutes.

We were able to retrieve Mitchell’s knife, for the last time that day, and begin the two mile walk back to the car. We had had a very fun and eventful first day in D.C.

Next up: the White House! *insert excited shriek here*

See you soon!

My Book Bag: Killing the Rising Sun

As I mentioned in my post last Friday about the Holocaust Museum, I do not handle the harsh facts of torture and death very well. That’s why I owned Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard for several months before I read it. And that’s why I’m just now writing about it several months after finishing it.

This book was an amazing account of the fight in the Pacific in World War II. In fact, it is such a highly detailed account that I do not recommend it for children below seventh grade. I do highly recommend it for high schoolers. I had my daughter, who is graduating this year, read it as part of her history curriculum. She was moved by it. It gives the reader a deeper appreciation for the men and women of the Greatest Generation, and for the sacrifices that all Americans made during those years.

This book provides a seamless overview of the lives of MacArthur, Eisenhower, Hirohito, FDR, Truman, Oppenheimer, and Churchill. It is a quick way to see how all of these men, and more, were united through history. For information on the European front of World War II, you might want to read Killing Patton, also by O’Reilly and Dugard.

The most interesting portion of the book to me was about the creating, testing, and finally, after a bold decision by  President Truman, the actual dropping of the atomic bomb. The authors build up the suspense with all sorts of fascinating and little-known facts about the dropping of the first nuclear bomb. For the history lover, the book is worth the read just to get to that information.

The end of the book includes letters from Presidents Truman, Carter, Bush 41, and Bush 43 about their feelings on the dropping of the A-bomb. Clinton and Obama declined to comment, which I found strange since FDR and Truman, the leaders ultimately behind the decision, were Democrats.

I have read the biography of Harry S. Truman by David McCullough, and I have visited his home and library in Independence, Missouri, twice. I already had a high opinion of the man who was our 33rd President. This book made me feel even more admiration for him.

History lovers and patriotic Americans alike will delight in this book, just be warned, it contains graphic information.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

After warming up and getting a snack at the cafe next door to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, we went to the Holocaust Museum nearby. This was Lauren’s senior trip, so we let her choose most of the stops we made, and this is one she wanted to see. I must admit that I did not. I have a good imagination and have done a substantial amount of reading on WWII and the holocaust. So much so, that I did not feel I needed this trip. I’m too sensitive! But, I roused my courage and went in.

We were pleased that Mitch’s knife passed security here, so that was less thing to worry about. I was also happy that they had a coat check available! It was cold outside, but muggy inside the museum. It was nice to check my coat, as well as the kids’ coats, to free up my hands.

The tickets were free, but we had to go obtain them. The gentleman who gave us our tickets recommended that we start in a special kids’ section. This area surveyed the life of “Daniel”, a young boy who was taken to a concentration camp with his father and separated from his mother and younger sister. He would never see them again. He and his father did survive, but they lost everything precious to them.  Before they were taken to the concentration camp, they were taken to a ghetto, sort of a prison that resembled the low-income projects that I have visited in Chicago. This entire section has audio of a boy’s voice playing, reading entries from Daniel’s journal. I was already wanting to cry, and we had barely gotten started on the four-floor museum! As we left, there was a place for kids to draw a card about how they felt about the holocaust, or about Daniel. Matthew drew this:

The directions were, “How did Daniel’s story make you feel? Draw or write it.” Matt drew the broken heart, then I labeled it and dated it. We could have left it there in a special display, but I wanted to keep it. The girls wrote something that they wanted to leave.

From here, we took elevators up to the top floor and worked our way downstairs. As we got on the elevator, we were told to take an “Identification Card”, which told us the fate of one of the prisoners. If you were a woman, you got a female, men got a male card. I got the ID of an older woman who disappeared. She probably died at the hand of the Nazis, but no one ever found out for sure. Matthew got a 12-year-old boy who was gassed. I didn’t tell him.

The top floor tells how Hitler came into power. There is a 14-minute film telling how he worked his way up from a nobody to Chancellor of Germany. It is disturbing and sad. There is a large photo, taller than a person, of two Nazi guards walking with a German shepherd dog. One of them looked very young. It was hard to believe that such normal looking people could be capable of such cruelty and hate. The museum was filled with people in this section, so many that I felt claustrophobic. I was also worried about losing the children in the crowd. The stuffy, muggy feeling of the museum was more apparent there as well. I wasn’t sure if the room was really that humid or if it was my mind making me feel that way because of the depression and grief I was feeling. Anyway, due to the crowd, we shuffled our way out without seeing many displays. I had to sort of tune out a lot of the displays. Some of them were maps, which don’t interest me very much, and some were equipment of the time. I moved passed those pretty quickly. There was a display that showed that the Nazis not only targeted Jews but also Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals.

The longer I walked the halls, the more oppressed I felt. As I said, I am sensitive. Getting out of there became my number one goal. And as I felt this longing, I felt an even greater sympathy for the Jews who only wanted to get out, to go home, but could not. By God’s grace, that could have been I! I took only a few photos, because again, how do you treat such a place? It seemed to be more than a tour that you gawk at, it felt like one long funeral. I wouldn’t take photos at a funeral. Yet, it was a tour. They want people to walk through, to see the exhibits, and even to capture the memory of them. I felt that I could take a few tasteful photos to share.

These photographs are photos taken from Jewish photographers’ studios after the owners were carried off to concentration camps. The photos are of Jews. There are no names, just faces. There are portraits of families, happy and comfortable; women, smiling with anticipation of a bright future; men dapper dressed, ready to face the world. The photos capture a moment in time, a happy moment before the Third Reich ripped into the lives of so many innocent people. The photos are three-stories high in this section.

These are shoes worn by Jews. They were taken from their feet before they were led in to be killed. The caption on the wall says, “We are the shoes, we are the last witnesses, We are shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers, From Prague, Paris, and Amsterdam, And because we are only made from fabric and leather, And not of blood and flesh, each one of us avoided the hellfire.”

The warmth and humidity of the room mingled with the smell of the ancient, worn leather made me feel quite nauseated. A headache formed above my eyes. I could not stand here long. Next door to this exhibit, was the same type of setup that you see in the photo above, only it was piles of human hair taken from the Jews. I could not pause, I could not even hesitate, or I would have been physically ill.

We saw a replica of a boxcar that transported the Jews to camps. We saw a large diorama-style carving of the process by which the Jews were killed. We saw a gate that said in German, “work will make you free”, which once stood at the entrance of a labor camp. What a lie it was! They worked them until they died, the only freedom they would have would be through death.

This room was a memorial room where you could light a candle in honor of the deceased. An interesting feature of this exhibit is the verse printed on the wall. Here is a close up:

It is Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” My husband commented that it is one of the strongest condemnations of Israel in the Bible. Israel had a conditional covenant, an “if-then” covenant. If they followed God, then blessings came; if not, then cursing. Surely one can make the connection that the holocaust was God’s judgment upon His wayward people? It struck me as an odd choice to have in this museum. Truly God has blinded some people to the truth (John 12:40). This room was lovely and cool, a refreshing break in an otherwise bleak tour.

As we were getting close to the end, I passed by the greatest part of the whole place: The Wall of Rescuers! I have read Corrie ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place, and eagerly searched for her name, and guess what? I found it!

There were thousands of names listed by country. People of all walks of life who sacrificed their own lives and comfort to spare the lives of others. What heroes! I couldn’t help but let a few tears fall in their honor. I also gave silent thanks to God for His mercy to me. He sent Christ to be my Rescuer! I was doomed for Hell, like all of mankind, but He stooped down to save me! I’m so undeserving, so unworthy, so vile and wicked, yet, He loves me anyway. This was the highlight of the museum.

Now that I had let the tears begin, there was no stopping them, especially at the last exhibit. It was a video of survivors sharing how they managed to live: a kind German female guard in a concentration camp, tying the shoes of a Jewish teen and physically carrying her feverish body out of her cell to avoid her being taken away and killed; a mother, taking her grandson from her daughter with an excuse and telling the guards that the boy was her son, because she knew that her daughter and grandson would die if she didn’t intervene. Her final words to her other daughter were “Look after your sister, tell her I did it for her” (once she realized her son had been killed with her mother). And there were more, many, many more. I quickly went through the five or six kleenexes that I had tucked in my purse, so with a stuffy nose and mascara trailing beneath my eyes, I implored my family to leave. They acquiesced. A few of them were crying, too. As we went to retrieve our coats from the coat check, we noticed a desk where a holocaust survivor was sitting, available to answer questions or discuss the holocaust with any who wanted to do so. I would have loved to stop to speak to her, but what could I say? I was barely able to form words on the subject anymore.

My head was pounding by the time we left the museum. As soon as I stepped outdoors, I inhaled the crisp, chilly air, felt the breeze against my cheeks, and thanked God for America.

We then found a food truck to grab a drink for me so I could take some medicine for my head. We decided to eat lunch there, too, since this was one item on Lauren’s bucket list. We all got a hot dog or a pretzel and a drink. We sat on a bench by the street and enjoyed our meal. Matthew even got to feed a few crumbs to these tiny birds that came very close. They must be used to getting fed by strangers.

She can now cross off “eat at a food truck” from her list!

The next stop would be Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Join me next week for another installment of our D.C. adventure!

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

We made it into D.C. on Monday, March 6, for our first full day of exploring. Today I am sharing about a place that is important to every single American, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where they make money…literally.

To visit this interesting locale, you must have a scheduled tour, no “walk -ins”. To plan your visit, contact your U.S. Representative’s or Senator’s office. You must have your photo I.D., along with your confirmation number, and like in every single place in D.C., you must be prepared to be searched. This includes x-ray machines for bags (or they will hand search your purse or bag), belts off, pockets emptied, arms out, and security guards examining your pupils for dilation. Okay, I exaggerate, but only slightly.

Our tour was the first one of the day. We arrived in plenty of time, too much time, actually. It was freezing cold. We parked near the Jefferson Memorial because it was free (and empty), but that meant we had a 1.5-mile trek to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. After waiting for 40 minutes in the wind, we were ready to hug the neck of the man who opened the door for us. The warm air was so inviting, that I didn’t even mind being searched…until they said, “Wait a minute, we’re not ready yet, go back outside.” The sheer heartbreak of it all! I hate to even recall it!

Leslie, waving to commuters to keep warm while we waited outside.

We finally got in, for real, and got searched. Right before entering, Mitchell realized he had his pocket knife with him. This is a major no-no in our nation’s capital. Washington D.C. has the least freedom in the “land of the free”. Terry stashed it outside and hoped to be able to retrieve it when we left. There’s always a little excitement when you travel with the Bashams!

We spent a few glorious minutes getting warm in a long hallway. It had various displays about the history of our currency. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this would the highlight of the tour.

The tour lasted about thirty minutes. One word comes to mind: underwhelming. We walked along corridors that had windows looking down into the area where bills were printed. A very attractive lady with a distinct speaking manner talked into a microphone, sharing information as we made our way through. She pointed out the unique security features in our money, most of which we already knew about. The tour ended at the machine where all the finished money is supposed to be spinning around a carousel and being wrapped, but we saw a whopping nothing. That part of the factory was down for an equipment upgrade. TV screens were playing footage of what normally happens in that area, but our TV was blank. Bummer.

We were told up front that no photography or videography was allowed. I was able to get a few photos outside and in the gift shop.

The gift shop area had a height chart, only it was “How Tall Are You In Money?” Here we are:

Terry got some playful criticism for wearing this old jacket – it does look rough! There is a story behind it. We were having very mild weather in Oklahoma, but we knew it could be cold out east, so we took jackets. Terry rarely wears a heavy coat, even in cold weather, so he only has light windbreakers. As we were leaving for our trip, he packed a windbreaker, but he thought he might need something heavier, so he grabbed this work coat that was in our garage and tossed it in the trunk. It turned out he was glad he had brought it because the temps were frigid those first days of our journey. This is Carhartt jacket that his Pa used to wear, so it has sentimental value. I’m used to seeing him in it and thought nothing of it. He did get some stares though, and some comments on social media about it, so I thought I’d explain. I think he will be getting a better one by next winter! The chart says he is about $1.6 million high. He joked and said, “I’m glad I wore my good coat so I’d look like a million bucks!” 😉

Mitchell is worth the most, even though he’s only 14!

The kids had been saving money for souvenirs for many months in preparation for this vacation. They were thrilled to find some very unique money souvenirs in the gift shop. I was able to get the coolest magnet I’ve ever seen: an iridescent $100 bill!

Was this tour worth getting up at 5:30 on the first day of vacation, walking over a mile in traffic, and waiting 40 minutes in the cold? No, but if you can go later in the day, or in the summer, or both, I think your take on it will much better than mine.

After this tour, we wanted to visit the Holocaust Museum which was next door. However, they didn’t open until 10:00. This was discouraging because the time was only 9:15! We hated the thought of waiting in the cold again. Thankfully, a little cafe was nearby and it was open. We enjoyed an expensive snack before going to the next stop.

Oh! and, in case you’re wondering, we did retrieve Mitchell’s pocket knife.

Next week, we will visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I hope you will join me!


Arlington National Cemetery

This week on the blog, we are visiting the lovely, awe-inspiring Arlington National Cemetery. After church on Sunday, March 5, we traveled south to Washington, D.C. Before we even checked into our room, we headed out to see some sites. We wanted to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns and visit some other graves. Even though I had seen photos of Arlington over the years, I was in astounded at the sheer number of tombstones! It was an ocean of them, as far as the eye could see in any direction, or so it seemed. I was also surprised that a cemetery could be so beautiful.

Everywhere you looked, there were rows and rows of tombstones, all in perfect lines, no matter which way you turned. The grass was lush and verdant even though spring had barely peeked its head out. The Lord gave us a special bonus to allow us to see the early buds of the cherry blossom trees, too. They were not expected to bloom until early April.

The home at the top of the hill is Arlington House. That was the home once owned by Robert E. Lee’s wife and where he and his family lived prior to the Civil War. The property at Arlington was commandeered by the Federal Government in retaliation for his part in the Confederacy. Without the Civil War, we would have no Arlington National Cemetery.

For some reason, Matt immediately stood at attention and saluted. It was so sweet.

Cherry Blossoms blooming.

On our way to the Tomb of the Unknowns, we stopped to see JFK’s, Jackie’s, and their baby, Patrick’s, grave with the eternal flame.

Once again, Matt saluted. It reminded me of the photo of JFK Jr. at his father’s funeral.

RFK is buried near his brother, but he doesn’t have a very glamorous area. He is buried in view of Arlington House, so that’s something, I guess.

The Washington Monument from JFK’s grave.

Arlington has a great many hills. We were in a big hurry to find our way to the Tomb of the Unknowns. Climbing the hills a fast clip definitely got our heart rates going. Matt had to be carried part of the way for us to make it in time.

He sure has a great dad!

We made it!

We not only saw the changing of the guard, but also two wreath-laying ceremonies. The men brought out the wreaths, representatives from the schools donating the wreaths came out, were escorted out to place the wreath at the tomb along with a Marine. Then, we were ordered to stand and salute while “Taps” was played on the trumpet. It was very moving to hear that haunting tune played in such a solemn place. “Taps” was played regularly during the Civil War to let the men know it was time to bed down for the night. It is appropriate that it has become the melody to honor our fallen heroes.

This plaque was on the wall in the guard’s area.

Next, we found the grave of Audie Murphy. He was the Texas boy who would go on to be the most decorated soldier of World War II. What a guy! When I was young, I saw the movie about his life, in which he also stars as himself. My dad really loved and admired him. I watched his biography on A & E where his sister tells how he used to shoot rabbits to put food on the table during the depression. “He was a hero to me before he ever did anything [in the war]”, she said.  It was an honor to stand and pay silent tribute to this American hero.

Near Audie Murphy’s grave, were these memorials to the crew of the Challenger and Columbia

While walking through the cemetery, we had to stop and get a photo here:

We were on Lawton Avenue! Our town is named after General Henry Lawton. He fought for the Union in the Civil War.

Last summer, Lauren read about a Navy Admiral named Grace Hopper. Lauren was reminded of her when she saw her name in the visitor center at Arlington. She really wanted to go find her grave, and since it was her senior trip, we thought, sure, why not? Well, it turned out to be quite an ordeal. We walked and walked and walked, getting lost more than once. All the kids were tired, but poor Matt was on the verge of exhaustion. When Lauren was able to finally locate it, we all scurried over to see it. This is what Matthew did when we got there:

We laughed and laughed which probably wasn’t the most respectful thing to do in a cemetery, but we were a great distance away from any other people, so I don’t think we offended anyone. After the stress of hunting for this gravesite, and almost giving up, Matt brought us some welcome levity. (And don’t worry, he wasn’t putting all of his weight on the tombstone to damage it.)

Lauren was delighted!

As we were leaving, I noticed that small tree growing among all those headstones. It struck me as quite beautiful to see that tree thriving despite being surrounded by so much death.

As we headed out, Matt got one more ride. He would need to toughen up because there would be a lot more walking in his future.

I missed seeing Arlington National Cemetery when I went to D.C. as a teenager. I am so glad I got to see it this time, and that my children could experience it. America is certainly not a perfect nation, far from it. But our nation has been blessed to have so many courageous people who willingly gave their lives to preserve my freedom to type these words right now. I owe a debt to these brave men and women, and I was humbled to stand on that hallowed ground

Thanks for traveling with me,


On March 2, 2017, our family rose before dawn, loaded up the van, and left on the longest vacation we’ve ever taken. We have been blessed to visit many interesting sites over the years, but they have always been in connection with ministry or visiting relatives. We have never gone so far away for so long before.

Lauren, our senior, had said several years ago, that if given the opportunity to go on a “senior trip”, she would choose Washington, D.C. When we lived in Arkansas, this seemed like a big request. When we moved even farther west, it became an even bigger one! Our goal had been to take her last summer, but we had to tell her no due to the lack of time and funds. We encouraged her to pray and to wait on the Lord. The Lord answered us in an amazing way. No sooner had we decided not to go when some friends graciously offered us the use of their time-share in the D.C. area. This would save us a lot of money. The only requirement being that we needed to be flexible on when we could go. As a homeschooling family, this was something we could do. Terry and I saved as much money as we could, and continued to bring it to the Lord in prayer. A six-day vacancy opened up in the time-share for March 5-10, so we took that as the Lord’s leading as when we should go.

As we mapped out our plan, we realized that we would be in the area of many interesting places. Since we were already traveling over 1,200 miles just to get to D.C., why not make the most use of our time out east? So we did! We were able to arrange a trip to Gettysburg, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, and Lexington, Virginia, in addition to D.C. I would like to share some of the highlights of this trip with you, and perhaps encourage you to see a few of these places, also.

We drove about fourteen hours the first day of our journey, and seven then next day. We arrived in Gettysburg to a lovely hotel (it really saved us money to be going during the off-peak season, which again, was the Lord’s doing). The hotel property backed up against an old cemetery, which the history lover in me found to be quite exciting.

The next day, we headed out early to tour Gettysburg. I read The Killer Angels at the end of last year, which really gave me a better understanding of those three days in July of 1863 and made the visit even more enthralling for me.

First, we headed to the visitor’s center. The battlefield can be toured for free, but the museum charges admission. As we were walking into the museum, an elderly couple passed us as they were leaving. The gentleman stopped Terry and said, “Hey, they didn’t take our tickets for the museum inside, would you like to have them? I don’t know if they will work, but you could give it a shot.” Terry thanked him and we went inside. He showed the admissions lady the tickets and she said they were for the wrong time. We thought, oh well, it won’t work. She proceeded to change the time on them and issue us the remaining five that we needed. That gentleman saved us $30! What a blessing from the Lord.

The museum was filled with interesting exhibits. The younger ones always seem to run ahead to the interactive parts of the museum, so we had to move quickly.

Of course, I had to get a photo with the Confederate flag.

The museum portion of our visit included watching a short film about Gettysburg, seeing the Cyclorama, a 360-degree painting of The Battle of Gettysburg with various sound and visual effects which made it seem like 3D, and the museum itself.

On this trip, we had to take group photos in twos. The person who snapped the first photo then handed the camera off to someone else and we took another with that person in the group. The sun was bright in this photo, but we couldn’t resist snapping a photo with Abe outside the museum.

Group shot, take two.

Next, we loaded up in the van and began our own tour of the battlefield. I visited Vicksburg National Military Park last year. It was a brief trip, but we were able to see it all in about an hour. The Gettysburg battlefield is huge. It took us four hours and we still could have explored it in more detail if we’d had more time. It was bitterly cold the day we were there, with strong blasts of arctic air hitting us in the face, yet we soldiered on and had a great time.

This is the view of Seminary Ridge the direction where Gen. John Reynolds (Union) was looking when he was shot off his horse. He died instantly in the opening moments of the battle.

This seemed like a nice place for a photo.

Cannons were all over the place.

Two Arkansas natives with the Arkansas memorial.

Me with Gen. Longstreet (Confederacy).

It has been debated that, had Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson not died at Chancellorsville, the south would have won the Battle of Gettysburg. Due to Jackson’s death, Longstreet became Lee’s second in command. There is much more to the story of course, so I encourage to read about the battle and about the men behind it.

There are three observation towers at Gettysburg. We ended up climbing roughly 37 flights of stairs. I photographed the view from each of them, but they sort of run together after a while. From these vantage points, you can get the big picture of the battle, with the help of placards that explain what is before you. The wind was quite strong up there, so we didn’t get to enjoy the view long. This was the best group shot of the fifty-five we took (haha).

The Virgina Memorial has this amazing monument to Gen. Robert E. Lee and Traveller.

Lee and Traveller.

Me and Terry on the top of Little Round Top! I was pretty excited!

Little Round Top

More of Little Round Top. It’s the setting for much of The Killer Angels, hence my excitement at seeing it.

The rock formation below is Devil’s Den – Confederate snipers camped out there and shot at the Union who held Little Round Top.

The Confederate’s view of Little Round Top.

The Wheatfield was the site of brutal fighting, 6,000 men died here.

The Trostle House. This served as Major Gen. Dan Sickles headquarters during the war.

The Pennsylvania Memorial is grand and beautiful.

I didn’t realize you could climb to the top of the Pennsylvania Memorial until I heard a faint yell from above. Can you see Mitchell?

There he is!

I had to climb up, too, and get the full experience. Here is the view inside the stairwell.

Lauren and Mitch at the top of the Pennsylvania Memorial.

The wind was so strong at the top of this monument, that my Nikon lens was shaking. It was all I could do to hold it steady. It still did a good job, though. The round disk on the wall has landmarks listed pointing in their general direction. It was a lovely view.

In front of the library on Seminary Ridge.

At Soldier’s National Cemetery.

Unfortunately, we didn’t tour the Soldier’s National Cemetery, where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, until Sunday morning before church. The frigid air drained the battery in my Nikon, so this is the last photo I was able to get with it. The next few are from my iPhone. Even with the full day that we spent at Gettysburg, we didn’t see everything. I do hope to visit again someday. Even if I had seen it all, I don’t think I can ever really get enough.

There was a poem written out in stanzas across part of the cemetery. This portion says, “Your own proud land’s heroic soil, Must be your fitter grave, She claims from war his richest spoil, The ashes of the brave.”

At the church we visited Sunday, I had an interesting conversation with a lady who grew up in Gettysburg. She informed me that the battlefield has really hampered the growth of the town of Gettysburg, after all, it takes up most of the town. As a child, she assumed every town had a battlefield in the middle of it!  Gettysburg is currently about 8,000 in population, which is how many dead they had to bury in July of 1863. She also told me that many people move there just because of the history. Before our trip, my kids liked to joke that “mom wouldn’t be coming home because she would want to live in Gettysburg”. Well, I did come home, but it’s nice to know that I’m not the only person who would want to move to a place just for its history.

We did a lot of walking and climbing at Gettysburg, and everyone got a good dose of history. And just think, this was only the beginning!

Thank you for traveling with me.

Review of Notgrass History: America the Beautiful

Notgrass American the Beautiful

Notgrass History, in particular the course called America the Beautiful, has been one of my favorite curriculum choices. The two hardback textbooks along with the hardback book of speeches and original documents called We the People, are beautifully done and written in a conversational way. The two review books, timeline book, and map book are appropriate for grades 3-5. The books themselves are enjoyable for ages 7 and up.

I read the two volumes of America the Beautiful aloud to my 5th and 8th graders last year. As a lover of history, I truly loved this book. The photographs were amazing and I especially enjoyed reading about the National Parks and biographies in the book. Most history books overlook National Parks or only mention them in passing. With this course, you will learn about an American landmark, usually a National Park, each week! I have added Crater Lake to my list “to visit” places in the USA thanks to Notgrass. I doubt you will read about Fred Rogers in another history book, yet his biography was one of my favorites and quite moving. You will also read about the Presidents, main events of history, and the actual words of those who lived during the times in the book We the People. The books are written from a Christian worldview, which is very important to our family.

I also enjoyed using the literature program with Notgrass. I read the following books aloud, and have reviewed them below:

Note: Two of the selections, Little Town of the Prairie and All of a Kind Family, we had already read aloud together as a family, so we did not re-read them. They are both wonderful stories which we highly recommend.

Sign of the Beaver (near the bottom of the post, please scroll down)

Amos Fortune: Free Man; Brady; Bound for Oregon (all in one post, scroll down)

Across Five Aprils

Blue Willow

Homer Price

It took me between 30 minutes to 1.5 hours to complete the read aloud portions each day. By the time I was finished teaching my youngest, helping the others with math, and grading everyone’s work for the day, I was exhausted. For this reason alone, I have chosen not to do Notgrass this year. However, I have saved my books and plan to use it with my youngest two children in the future. It is a wonderful history program that brings the family together to share in learning, and in making memories. To me, that is the very heart of homeschooling.

With love,