Editorial: Memorial Day fitting time to recall America’s history

Many of us on this Memorial Day weekend will honor our loved ones who are no longer with us. Many of us also will honor the memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country so that we may enjoy the freedoms and liberties that we as Americans hold dear.

It’s fitting that we pay tribute with respect and reverence. And in that regard, we’ve been humbled to carry in several stories in The Republic lately about local people who are keeping alive our nation’s and community’s history in different ways.

Jana Wiersema a few days ago wrote about Alan Birkemeier, a social studies teacher at Central Middle School, who is a contributor to “Revolutionary Ideals,” a collection of lesson plans and essays created in preparation for the 250th anniversary in 2026 of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

1776 might seem like ancient history to youngsters, but many of us can recall our nation’s patriotic celebration of America’s bicentennial just a little less than 50 years ago. Now that we are in sight of the 250th anniversary, history indeed feels a little closer in proximity.

For children who are just learning about our nation’s founding, though — and the enduring values for which colonists risked everything back in the 1770s — these are precious lessons about what it means to be an American and why colonists fought for our freedoms.

As Wiersema wrote, “Birkemeier and Paul Nadeau, a middle school teacher from Rhode Island, co-wrote a lesson plan titled ‘Party in Philadelphia: Tea, Time, and Troubles,’ which focuses on the ideals that fueled the lesser-known Philadelphia Tea Party and how colonists used broadsides for communication and persuasion.”

That’s part of Revolutionary War educational resources intended for use by middle and high school social studies teachers, according to National History Day. A lesson plan booklet, supporting materials and more is available for free download at nhd.org.

Additionally, Parkside Elementary fifth-graders took part earlier this month in the school’s annual Revolutionary Fair, which included colonial-era reenactors in full costume and lessons on aspects of the American Revolution and colonial life, such as colonial etiquette, espionage, life in the Continental Army and colonial games.

Lessons like these make quite an impression on young people because they feel a greater sense of interaction and in-person connection to the past.

Meanwhile, a local group also is working to honor local soldiers who fought for the Union during the American Civil War.

Former Republic publisher Bud Herron wrote about that in our SALUTE! special section in Thursday’s paper. The John B. Anderson Camp #223 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War has discovered that a far greater number of local soldiers served that had been understood, and they hope to establish a fitting memorial in their honor.

And finally, St. John’s Lutheran Church, White Creek, will honor its members who fought in combat from World War I through the Vietnam War — including several killed in action — with the dedication of a memorial in their honor at 3 p.m. today at the church.

May we never forget.