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  • Originally published 05/15/2013

    Why Students Should Stop Interviewing Vietnam Veterans

    Credit: Vietnam Veterans Against the War.It’s that time of the year: Hi, my name is Emily and I’m supposed to interview a Vietnam veteran for my AP history class. Hello, I’m Chris and my senior project is on the Vietnam War. Do you know any veterans I could talk to? Dear Veterans, I’m studying the Vietnam War and I would like to know how you were treated when you came home. Could I ask you some questions? Thank you for your service, Jason.Sometimes the inquiries arrive through the listservs of veterans’ organizations; others find their way to me more directly. They become more frequent in the months when the high school history curriculums reach the spring events that ended the war in 1975. The approach of Memorial Day in late May sustains interest in the war through the end of the school year.

  • Originally published 01/18/2013

    “Grandma Did What?” Digging Up the Roots of Family Lore

    Researching one’s family tree has become a popular pastime, partly because parents want to pass on family stories to their kids, to give them a deeper sense of identity and history.Many old family legends, however, are at least partly false.Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist and author of “Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing,” says the stories passed down by families are often rooted in one of several common misperceptions. She summarizes them this way:“Three brothers came to America; one went north, one went south and one went west.” Many people assume they have family ties to large numbers of widely dispersed people with the same surname, but DNA testing and other genealogical tools often disprove it....

  • Originally published 07/08/2003

    Top 5 Myths About the Fourth of July!

    Credit: Wiki Commons.#1 Independence Was Declared on the Fourth of July.America's independence was actually declared by the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776. The night of the second the Pennsylvania Evening Post published the statement:"This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States."So what happened on the Glorious Fourth? The document justifying the act of Congress-you know it as Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence-was adopted on the fourth, as is indicated on the document itself, which is, one supposes, the cause for all the confusion. As one scholar has observed, what has happened is that the document announcing the event has overshadowed the event itself.When did Americans first celebrate independence? Congress waited until July 8, when Philadelphia threw a big party, including a parade and the firing of guns. The army under George Washington, then camped near New York City, heard the new July 9 and celebrated then. Georgia got the word August 10. And when did the British in London finally get wind of the declaration? August 30.

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