Understanding History – an experience around the Freedom Trail

I feel a little self indulgent in showing these photos of the historical freedom trial Penny Vanderkruk and I walked over several mornings whilst studying at Harvard last year. However in walking the trail we feel we got a glimpse into why Americans are generally proud of their historical struggles towards independence and freedom. We also learnt about their fairly historical religious backgrounds.

We in Australia haven’t had those battles towards independence which in part define the American identity although if I can draw some parallel we also established part of our identity through by the character shown on the battlefields of WW1 and WW2.

For those not familiar with the trial we started the freedom trail at Boston Commons which was an open area for people to congregate. Prior to the struggles towards independence the area was noted for public punishments ((hangings, lashes) for crimes according to old Mormon type law. From there we walked to the Granary burial grounds where many of the initial thinkers, writers or people who contributed towards of the act of independence are buried:e.g.  Paul Revere and Sam Adams. We then walked along and visited Churches where public meetings of dissent where held and the town hall where the act was first read on the balcony to the people. We finished the guided tour with Nabby at the Quincey Market.

We continued the trail past Paul Revere’s ride, house and church where the latern shone to warn the people of the advancing British Army. We finished the trial at the Bunker Hill Monument.

I was fortunate enough to visit Beijing later in the year and again learn about some of their history: Ming Dynasty, Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China.

These two experiences have reinforced the need for Australian history to be taught in schools (its in the new National Curriculum). It also for me calls for us to remember our history in similar trials around our cities. I know there are several historical trials around Melbourne but not to my knowledge guided in such a way as to relive the history. Something to ponder – do we have trials around our schools and local communities?


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