I don’t remember remembering the Pledge of Allegiance. Miss Carolyn Blades made us stand up, put our hand over our heart, and say it every morning of our lives in the first grade to start the school day. She didn’t miss a one!

Before we got to the second grade someone up in Washington added “under God” right in the middle of the pledge. It didn’t take us long to adjust to the new wording. Miss Dorothy Booth was just as adamant as Miss Carolyn about the morning salute to flag, God and country.

Learning about The Declaration of Independence was a little more complicated. We talked about it some in the fifth grade. But to tell you the truth, I was so busy trying to learn that long list of presidents, I didn’t pay much attention.

I didn’t really take note of it until junior high. Miss Velna Gray Paschall explained in painstaking detail the special connotation that went along with “When in the Course of human events”, being “endowed by the Creator” and she’d near ’bout swoon over that “Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness” part.

Miss Paschall solemnly pointed out what would have happened to those 56 people who signed the Declaration if the war had taken a wrong turn.

She spent several days on the Articles of Confederation, patiently going over its strengths and weaknesses. And she made us memorize the Preamble to the Constitution before we ever got down to Article one, Section one. We went over each and every single Bill of Rights like OUR lives depended on it! She gave tests on which amendment did what. AND you had to know the correct number and the year it was adopted.

I hope and pray God is still making teachers like Velna Gray Paschall. She pushed, shoved, demanded, cajoled and loved those precious documents into our hearts.

You can understand why she was the first person I thought of last week when I walked into the rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. I hurried straight to the Constitution. I wanted to see if the original document got the Preamble right!

I leaned over as far as I could before the 243 year old Declaration of Independence. The lighting was dark and the words were so faded I couldn’t make all of them out. But I could see that John Hancock had indeed signed big and bold right at the center top of the names!

In the stillness and quietness and reverence of the moment I remembered what had made America great in the first place.

And I thanked Jakob and Micah Prine again for bringing me to Washington. These two young guys were great! They showed me the Washington Monument with enthusiasm. We climbed those many steps on an extra hot day up to the Lincoln Memorial in awe. We walked around the World War II Memorial and lingered by The Wall with respect. We circumnavigated the Reflecting Pool on our way to the Capitol with pride. We stood and gazed at the South Portico of the White House and talked about the leaders who had occupied it.

We spent a week and a half at Ford’s Theater. I thought for a while we were going to put on our own rendition of “Our American Cousin”! Those two young boys dazzled me with their knowledge of Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, the Peterson house…..and everything else connected to the assassination of the sixteenth President.

They showed me the Wright brothers’ first plane, Charles Lindbergh’s “The Spirit of St. Louis” and the spacesuit Neil Armstrong was wearing when he stepped on the moon. I’m telling you, they saw it all….monuments, sacred papers, living history….with refreshing eyes.

You couldn’t help but be carried along! What does the Bible say about the little child….

We are a great nation in spite of the way we act sometimes!

And the future is not about me. It’s about Jakob and Micah and all of those bright eyed, bushy tailed youngsters out there.

The Preamble speaks of our posterity. The framers of the Constitution understood the bigger picture. Boy howdy, do we need that in Washington today!

I’ll tell you what the first step should be. Every Senate member, House of Representative person, everybody in the White House, the Supreme Court folks and all Americans everywhere ought to have to take the Jakob and Micah led tour of Washington, DC.

You talk about an eye opener……


Thanks guys,

Mr. Kesley