I have always been fascinated with American history. Not battles and dates, but how people lived each day, the tools they used, the values and customs that have evolved in our country over time.
My parents fostered this interest to a large extent. When we took vacations, we would visit historic places like Plimouth Plantation, Boston, and colonial Williamsburg. I have walked through old mansions, recreated farms, and battlefields imagining who was there, what they said and thought, the smells, the sounds all those years ago.
One of my earliest brushes with our nation’s history was right in school. Mrs. Ten Hoopen (yep), my third grade teacher, loved poetry. She introduced me to Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Frost… and Longfellow. I remember clearly reading “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”, tapping out the rhythm of the words, almost hearing the hoofbeats of Revere’s horse as he sped through the darkness to alert the colonists of the arrival of the British.
Now I teach fifth grade and Mrs. Ten Hoopen is smiling down from Heaven. Tomorrow I will introduce my students to this wonderful narrative poem, and I pray with all my heart that they will hear those hoofbeats, too.