May 20 to May 30, 2019
Two American aviators made history in 1927 and 1932, respectively. The first was 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh, who made a solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic. He started his mission from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, NY in a custom-made, single-engine monoplane on the morning on May 20th and landed at Paris’s Le Bourget Airport 33 hours later.
Seven years later, Amelia Earhart emerged as the pioneering aviatrix who piloted a solo Atlantic crossing. She departed from Newfoundland, flew more than 2,000 miles, and landed after 13 hours in Ireland, near Londonderry.
These daring stories make history exciting. For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize suggests The Flight of the Lone Eagle: Charles Lindbergh Flies Nonstop from New York to Paris by John T. Foster, and Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming.
Clarissa Harlowe Barton, a self-taught nurse at a time when there was no such thing as a nursing school, risked her life caring for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. When it was over, she devoted herself to seeking opportunities to be of service–wherever she could. On May 21, 1881, Clara Barton, as she was known, founded the American Red Cross at the age of 59. During the next 23 years, she was its president.
She died in 1912.
For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Joshua Hanft’s Clara Barton (Heroes of America).
The Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787 to amend the Articles of Confederation, which had been ratified in 1781. They were—in effect– the nation’s first constitution, but it was considered a flawed document. Instead, the Convention resulted in the creation of the Constitution of the United States–the foundation of America’s Federal Government.
The Constitution is a worthy read for adolescents, as is the story of the Convention. For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Constitutional Convention: A History Just for Kids by the KidsCap group, and—for the Constitution–The U.S. Constitution And Fascinating Facts About It by Terry L. Jordan.
No visit to the Nation’s Capital would be complete without pausing to think about the American Dream as envisioned by the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, whose memorial overlooks the Reflecting Pool at the National Mall. The United States Congress officially authorized its construction in 1867, two years after his assassination. However, it was not completed and dedicated until May 30, 1922. It was designed by architect Henry Bacon, along with Daniel Chester French’s life-sized sculpture, “Seated Lincoln”.
As journalist Phil Edwards put it: “the story behind the Lincoln Memorial’s construction is a surprisingly complicated one, and it says something about the contortions that, even today, politicians have to undergo to become monument-making visionaries.”
For more reading: Brent Ashabranner’s Memorial of Mr. Lincoln–is an ideal book for young readers. It is as much about Mr. Lincoln’s life as it is about how and why it took five and a half decades to erect something suitable in his honor. As one reviewer put it when the book was published, the strength “is in the author’s examination of the way the monument has become a powerful symbol of freedom and civil rights in our country.”
May 20 to May 30, 2019 — History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.