As a child, history was never my favorite subject in school. I made good grades, but again, not my favorite-by a long shot. Fast forward to a college level American history class that I took, well into adulthood, and boy had things changed. Well, I had changed. For extra-credit, my husband and I took a day off work, visited a few local Virginia plantations, and I turned in a paper about the experience for the credit. I got an “A” in the class, but still didn’t continue to pursue learning more after the class, even though I enjoyed it. He and I would also take an occasional trip to visit the Smithsonian Museums in Washington D.C., not related to the class, but more for the short getaway than the learning experience. Imagine my surprise when on one of those trips to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, my eyes landed on the name and photo of a relative whose name I recognized, but had never met. That’s a story for another time, but he is one of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first group of African-American military airmen who, because of their efforts during WWII, are recognized for their significant military accomplishments in the face of adversity. Basically, they fought a war on several fronts, including the one at home (Jim Crow). It then made sense to me why I have additional family members who have been licensed pilots, and the one who still is has carried on the name of our family WWII-Air Force-trailblazer-veteran’s name by naming his son after him. How cool is that?
Fast forward to today. It is very clear to me that I’m not the only person who had not been paying close enough attention to events and people around me that not only affect me daily, but shape my life and surroundings on a daily basis. How might I have acted differently, made different decisions, chosen different paths, had I come this enlightenment sooner? The truth is that I believe everything happens, when it happens, for a reason, but certainly my path would have been walked with my head held higher. I am not alone in this regard. While everyone may not be able to point to a relative featured in a museum, or had a movie written based on their actions (Red Tails, released in 2012), history, in this case American history, surrounds us all on a constant basis, and we are all contributors. There is a story behind every object you can sense, place you visit, and person that you run across. Someone told me recently that “History is our teacher, not our past”, and I believe that to be true.
And so, now is the beginning of a fork in my path. I have “ducked” history for long enough. My final inspiration to act, and the play on the word “duck” came from my reaction to a certain “royal” duck related reality television show member who basically said during an interview that Blacks he saw (before the civil rights era, and in rural Louisiana) were all “singing and happy”. Though it was HIS observation (ok, we sometimes see the same things differently, but here we go back to Jim Crow), it was a statement that, at best, thoroughly ignored the experiences Blacks faced at that time, and at worst, was insulting to the very people who experienced it. Also, while I enjoy singing and am generally a happy person, I do understand that sometimes you sing to make yourself happy, not because you already are. Just sayin’.
Moving right along… My hope is to encourage others to walk their paths alongside mine, knowing that there will be forks that will take us in different directions at times. I also believe that the more we walk together, the more chances that our paths will cross, with the ultimate destination being a comfortable place for everyone to just be able to “be”. Everyone deserves that opportunity.
I’ll be blogging about my journey along the way, and I hope you make the time to share yours as well. I encourage you to share your American history related posts on the facebook page. Short stories you may elect to write may also be shared via this form , for possible inclusion in a future book, posting on the Don’t Duck History website (yet to be released), and/or used with other media that will serve the ultimate goals of the project. Then, just be patient; this is a marathon, not a sprint! Take a few minutes and watch this interview of one of the Tuskegee Airmen, from the History.com website.
Last but not least, expenses are ongoing and your help in that department would be appreciated as well. Here is the page where you can lend your support. For a $30 dollar donation (and multiples of $30), you will receive a t-shirt as a thank you gift! You also have the option of supporting with as little as $10, and ongoing monthly support is available as well. The timeline for a project like this is usually several years or more, but to minimize the time from idea to the first published book, funding will be used to hire as much help as possible, in addition to being used for current and upcoming expenses. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and thank you in advance. Peace, squeaks, and quacks! Because that’s what rubber ducks do.
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/dontduckhistory