Annotated Bibliographies Suck…

I am currently working on several papers for school. One is due next week in my English class and I am supposed to write a critical study for one of the short stories in our book for class. The other one is in my History class and due at the end of the semesters and counts as our final. We could do it on any historical subject in American History prior to 1865 (the class title as well). But its not that we can just wait until the end of the semester and write it all at the last minute. We have several deadlines in class that will be graded that get us through major steps. Our first one was the topic – with the help of my prof I decided to focus on the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore/War of 1812.

Now, tomorrow, we have to turn in our annotated bibliography for the paper. If anyone has ever written one, you kinda know why they suck to put together. Instead of having months to research and find your documentation, we have a few weeks to gather together what we will be using (5 primaries, 5 secondaries) for our research. Not only listing them but putting down a description of the item and the reason for using it. What it will support, etc.

I am sure they have a purpose: figure out your research, have it all focused and such. And I am sure this won’t be the last one I will ever write (especially since I am thinking of taking the next section from the same Prof) over the next few years for school. I am guessing they are necessary for thesis papers and such. My hubs and I have discussed the possibility of me going for my Masters after I get my Bachelors… I am sure they will be due then. But it is hard, having to find ten resources on what is considered a very minor skirmish in a war most people don’t even know happened. Strange as it may seems.

One would wonder why I would go for this subject then. Why not go for an easier topic like: Salem Witch Trials, Ben Franklin, Jamestown, etc. Other then the fact that they are super obvious to me as topics (I actually heard two people discussing the Witch trials with the prof), I grew up knowing about Fort McHenry and what was important about the day of the Bombardment beyond that of the writing of the National Anthem. My grandmothers family is from around there… about a short 10 minute drive, so when we would go to Baltimore for vacation and visit family it was always a destination we would visit as well. Why not? It is a beautiful place, full of history.

Why was it important? It kept the British from taking Baltimore, which at the time was considered more important then Washington being burnt down. Washington at the time was just starting to become the hub of the American government. The White House was there, famously burned down by the Brits, and the Capital but it was not the city it was today. Many people were afraid that if Baltimore (one of the countries richest and leading ports) was taken, the Brits could make their way to Philadelphia. So, our 1000 men at Fort McHenry, holding off the Brits for 25 hours and making them turn around was a big moment in our national history. That was in 1814, before the famous Battle of New Orleans with Andrew Jackson and two years after a war began with our invasion of Canada.

This year is also the bicentennial of the start of the war, I bet you had no idea. We didn’t really celebrate it but we should because it really affirmed us as a nation in the eyes of the rest of the world because we were able to hold our ground.

Now, I would love to lecture more but alas my son just woke up and I need to go get him.

It Almost Made Me Cry

Okay, I had something happen to me earlier this week that almost made me cry… but it defiantly made me extremely sad.

In my English class we were discussing the story “Rip Van Winkle” and the teacher separated us into groups to break down the story and the group I got was Setting. Why was Rip Van Winkle set where it was, when it was and why? Easy right… Ha!

We started with when Rip Van Winkle was set and we knew that he basically slept thru the beginning of the Revolutionary War. So, I figured it would be easy to answer that. He woke up at the beginning and he was asleep for 20 years. The first question asked “When was the revolutionary war?” I was a bit stunned but more when someone else answer – 1825 right? Um, no… I asked to kinda guide my classmates – when was the declaration of independence signed because that was basically a bugger off to England. I got the response of blank stares and I don’t know.

Now this makes me sad because last week in my history class we discussed the 4th of July and when the teacher asked what it was a celebration of the girl sitting next to me answered: fireworks. She was serious.

Now why does this make me sad? Would it make you sad?! It does for me… Especially since these kids are straight out of high school pretty much and do not know when our Declaration of Independence was signed. I’m sorry but my 5 year old nephew knows this – I am pretty sure, he is a smart kid. But this is one of the most important day in our nations history. It is not a celebration of fireworks – which are a reminder of the war we fought.

It was like last year when I went to a baseball game for the 4th and when the national anthem was sung most of the people around me showed no respect. Kept their hats on and did not put their hands over their hearts, but they did for God Bless America. And they all sang that. No one sang the National Anthem and peoples kids were screaming.

Is this a sign that we are loosing something here in America when the next generation doesn’t seem to know American History? Are they learning it in school? Or is it just what I am seeing.

And it wasn’t just that… we were discussing New York and no one really knew that New York existed back that and how important it was to our nations history. Why base Rip Van Winkle outside of New York city in the mountains along the Hudson River? Maybe its cause I grew up for the first part of my life in New Jersey. It made common sense to me that we would know why that was an important area to base a story about someone sleeping thru the birth of our nation. But nothing is as bad as a lack of knowing when the Declaration of Independence was signed.

But it seriously did make me almost cry.