Invitation to the Birth of a Nation
Posted on: 9th February 2014 18:48:46



Welcome to the February 2014 Edition  ~ 1776~ President’s Day!


In keeping with the theme of asking thought provoking questions to clinicians, educators and families, let us continue with:


Why 1776? 


Firstly, because it fits nicely into the overall theme of the Guidebook ~ holiday celebration.    Holiday celebration?  Why President’s Day and not Valentine’s Day?


At the time of the guidebook’s inception, Angie, my friend the Activity Director, asked me if I had any movies focusing on President’s Day. (Activity Directors live by the calendar and celebrate all the holidays marked in red ~ big or small). My knee jerk response was “No”. However, upon further consideration, I said, “I do have a film with a lot of future Presidents in it – 1776”. She was intrigued, so we gave it a try.


The rest as they say is…history.


She loved it, the residents loved it ~ sharing stories of school days, history lessons, romance and hardship in married life. (Remember at its heart this film tells the story of the marriage of John and Abigail Adams whose life together was plagued by separation as the founding fathers fought “…to get a nation started against greater odds than a more generous God would allow…Independence first…America -- if we don’t secure that what difference will the rest make?”)


After observing this reaction, and considering future possibilities for use in the classroom, I knew President’s Day was a more reasonable choice than Valentine’s Day. After all, in the world of the Movie Musical love is a constant theme and is celebrated in one form or fashion in all the movies in the guidebook. (Specific reference is seen in Holiday Inn ~ November movie of the month. If Valentine’s Day is a particular favorite feel free to use that movie as a companion this month).


Secondly, 1776 is fun!  It puts history to music. Many of the songs are “sing-able”. (“Sit down, John, sit down John! for G-d sake John sit down”!)  Singing helps to build auditory memory and can help students learn and recall some of the most important lessons in American history.


It gives life to figures that heretofore, were only verbal descriptions. 


We see:


  • John Adams as a man so consumed by his love of country that he often alienates the men who can help him most.   We see a Congress divided Right v. Left, fearing the unknown. How are we to govern ourselves? (The Right).  How can we not govern ourselves when the Crown taxes us into oblivion?  (Stamp Acts, Sugar Acts, Tea Acts ~ The Left.).


  • Thomas Jefferson as a reluctant hero who would rather be home with his wife than forging the document that will build the nation.


  • Ben Franklin not only as the sage who sees the need for compromise and fights for it but also as comic relief. (“John you’re obnoxious and disliked ~ no one listens to you”!)


  • Judge James Wilson (Who?): The Congressman from the Pennsylvania delegation who was the deciding vote for independence. (Who knew?)  A man who “did not want the responsibility…who did not want to be remembered.  If I vote with them I’ll be just one among dozens. If I vote with you (John Dickson) I’ll be the man who prevented American Independence… I just didn’t bargain for that…my vote is yea!”


The Declaration is signed and  the nation forges forward. Students learn new lessons, adults/families relive old ones and clinicians find an activity that promotes not only interaction but also fun along the way! 


Thanks for coming!


See you in March.  You’re invited to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Brigadoon with Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse!



--  Lori





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