Learning History via Netflix and Power Washing

When I was young, I was very interested in the American Civil War.  In fact, after reading “The Killer Angels” in school and later seeing its film version, “Gettysburg,” my family took a vacation in which we visited several of the battlefields, including Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg.  So, when I realized Netflix was showing Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” a few weeks ago, we started watching it. Our trip to the battlefield in Franklin, TN over Memorial Day weekend helped create even more interest, and I’ve been happy to pass along my love of U.S. history and learning about our bloodiest war to the children.

Speaking of U.S. history and active learning, I’ve also taken my children to the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta during a visit from my friend Doug.  So, they’re familiar with the atrocities we bestowed upon one another even after the Civil War, especially in Alabama (where much of their family lives or lived) just a few decades ago.

So, when my friend Jim facilitated my receiving a Karcher pressure washer to try out for Father’s Day, I thought, “Do I want to clean my car or driveway with this thing, or do I want to make sure my children really understand the dark times of American history?”  I figured I can clean the driveway later.

power washer

I hooked up the hose to the contraption and told my kids to go pretend they were marching from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church to the Birmingham Mayor’s office in City Hall to promote equal rights.

wailing babies

Then I came outside in my old Air Force BDUs and a Mexican wrestling mask, so I looked all villainous.  And I full on went Bull Connor on them.

spraying babies more

They sang “We Shall Overcome” as I gave them a small taste of what our neighbors to the west faced not long ago for having the audacity to be black and in downtown Birmingham.  Sure, the water pressure was turned down fairly low–and I didn’t use the attachment that can take paint off of brick–but I think they got the message.

upset children sprayed

It was a great way to spend a few minutes outside on Father’s Day, and I’m certain their knowledge of history from the 1960s is forever solidified.

And that’s how we Netflixed and chilled this June.


One Comment

  1. I loved the book, Killer Angels. I went on to read tons about the Civil War.
    It’s cool that you used the pressure washer in such a unique way – a power tool/history prop – nice.

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