In memory of the 54th Massachusetts

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Back in the days when I was still teaching, which was more than a decade ago now, I always made it a point to show the movie Glory to my students. But I never went the route of just putting the tape into the VCR (it wasn’t quite DVDs back then) and pressing play. That wasn’t how I rolled in the classroom.

Each day (and I think it took almost a week to get through the whole movie) I would give my students sheets filled with questions I had typed up in advance. And then, at many points throughout the movie, I would hit pause and make some point or another about what was going on in the story. Students who wanted to put their heads down and zone out were disappointed, but it also kept all of us engaged in the story. It was one of my favorite experiences of the school year, because it allowed us all learn about a story that is all too easily overlooked in the history books.

Denzel Washington won an Academy Award, and helped to launch his successful career in the movies. Morgan Freeman also got a significant career boost and, as hard as I tried not to see Ferris Bueller in period costuming, every time Matthew Broderick opened his mouth that’s exactly what I saw. Fortunately, many of my students didn’t have that same baggage.

When you visit Boston, as I did last summer, the Revolution seems to confront you at every turn. But a notable exception to this is the monument to the 54th Massachusetts, shown above in all its glory (sorry! couldn’t resist it!). If you get up real close, you can see the look of determination in the soldiers’ faces. It’s a great piece of art, and a fitting tribute to those who anted up and kicked in 150 years ago today. This post is written to thank them for their bravery and their sacrifice.

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