Monday, July 1, 2013


"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

I had the most amazing 6th grade teacher. She was a solitary and soft spoken woman, but, she commanded great respect. She was quite unconventional, allowing her students to learn in off beat ways; one of my favorites was by creating our own 'projects'. Our school day wasn't divided into classes, but, often into 'sharing' the books we were reading and the projects we were working on....which always culminated in lively discussions and debates.

Another learning tool she used was to have us memorize several important historical documents, poems and declarations-The Gettysburg Address, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, and the poem written at the base of the Statue of Liberty, 'The Colossus'- to name a few. We were given the list at the beginning of the year and told we had all year to learn/memorize at a time, at our own pace. When we had memorized one of those declarations, and we felt ready, we stood in front of the class and recited that particular document, poem, etc. Our teacher then checked that one off our list. Each of us continued this way until we had memorized and recited all of the documents/poems/declarations.

I actually enjoyed the memorizing, but, didn't honestly think that I would remember any of it after that year. But, I was wrong. To this day I can recite parts of all of the documents.  I know most of the Gettysburg Address, the Colossus on the Statue of Liberty, and the important parts of The Declaration of Independence.

Every July I think about the many freedoms and blessings I enjoy living here in the United States of America, I also remember my amazing teacher whose idea it was that I learn those vestiges of American History and why they were so important to my life in 1964.

I heard that Miss Seagren died last week at the age of 98. With her passing, I mourn a beautiful human being and an incredibly inspiring teacher.

 Happy Independence Day, Miss Seagren.

"The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

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