Traveling in Search of Americas History Essay

Traveling in Search of Americas History

Tour 1

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The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was created by Maya Lin. The historical event that it honors is the Vietnam War and those who died or went missing as a result of their sacrifice in the war. This war is significant because it was so controversial at home, and the monument honors those who gave their life for the war. It is one of the most famous war memorials in the world. The war was meant to contain communism in Asia. It was unpopular at home, however, because of the draft and the fact that people did not understand why the US was fighting a war in Vietnam that had nothing to do with America. People burned their draft cards and protested the government, especially when it turned out that the US was lying about the death toll. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was a way to clear the foul air back home by honoring those who died fighting for a cause that not many understood or agreed with.

The Jefferson Memorial is another memorial that is a tribute to the 3rd President of the US, Thomas Jefferson. It was designed by John Russell Pope and built by John McShain. Jefferson is known as the primary author of the Declaration of Independence. The words of the Declaration are etched into the walls of the Jefferson Memorial. Inside is a bronze statue of Jefferson that stands 19 feet tall. In his left hand is the Declaration of Independence. Clearly this was an important document and the reason for its importance is that it was the document that announced Americas independence from England. The cause of the declaration was the heavy tax burden that England had placed on the colonies. The effect of the declaration was that it led to the war between England and the colonies. The outcome was the start of the United States. Had it not been for Jefferson, the US would not have gotten off on this note.

Tour 2

Mt. Rushmore is located in Pennington County, South Dakota. It was the brainchild of Doane Robinson, who wanted to attracted tourism to South Dakota. Gutzon Borglum hit upon the idea of carving the four presidents into the mount. South Dakota US Senator Peter Norbeck sponsored it and obtained federal money for it. Borglum and then his son oversaw the project. The idea was to have the bust of each president carved, but funding ran out and the project, begun in1927, was stalled by 1941.

I choose George Washington, the first US President. His accomplishments begin even before he became president. He helped lead the colonies to victory over the English in the War for Independence. As president he gave a great example of how to guide the nation: he stated that people in America must never take their nation for granted or misuse what they have obtained. Implicit in his view was that only a people with virtue will be able to retain the great nation they were gifted after the Revolutionary War.

I would say that George Washington also showed that America did not have to be a centralized nation with a strong federal government. Washington only served two terms even though there were no term limits imposed at the time. He resigned from government because he wanted to return to the simple life of overseeing his land and his life at home. That is a great idea for todays leaders who have grand ambitions.

However, Washington also had his own issues. He was close to Alexander Hamilton, who was very ambitious. Even the US did not have a tremendously strong federal government at the time, Washington did help to strengthen it. He often allowed Hamilton and John Jay to have their ways, and he owned slaves.

Tour 3

Carrie Chapman Catt was a leader of the womens movement prior to WW1 and she pushed for the promotion of womens suffrage, ultimately securing enough votes in Congress to see that women would receive the vote as an Amendment to the Constitution. Prior to that, women had not right to vote in American politics. Women were largely anti-war at the time, and the womens movement had resisted supporting the war. Wilson wanted the support of the womens movement and he Chapman that he would see to it that women would receive the right to vote if they would back the war effort that he was trying to drum up support for. So she was instrumental in making sure that women got the vote even though all it meant was that they would have to go back on their anti-war stance. Without the work of Carrie Chapman, the US might never have entered into WW1 and women would not have the right to vote today. It was her push and effort that changed the course of life in America.

Lucille Ball was a female comedian and actress who starred in one of the funniest TV sitcoms of all timethe I Love Lucy show. She pioneered the womans role on TV and gave the joy of laughter to American society many years. People would tune in to watch her show and they loved the mirth that she brought to their lives. She helped pave the way for women in TV and she helped pave the way for women as producers. She was an inspiration to other actresses and the show has won universal acclaim around the world. Her show really stands out as a testament to the creative powers of American society and what made life in America so grand. Lucille Ball is an icon in TV and show business as a result, and she made life fun for all the millions who watched her every week and then for years after when the show was in re-runs. Her influence has spread around the whole world.

Tour 4

The Legacy Museum was built to memorialize the enslavement of black people. It is located on the site of a former slave warehouse where blacks were sold as slaves. Blacks were also lynched and killed by white mobs and that is memorialized at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The Legacy Museum focuses on the enslavement of blacks, the racial terrorism that they experienced, and the Jim Crow racism that extended the feeling of slavery for many even after Emancipation.

My reaction to this place is that it shows how life for blacks in the US has always been the ugly side of America. Blacks were slaves and were mistreated as less than human beings. Then they abused after they were freed, and this was the case in the Black Codes and Jim Crow laws. Today they are disproportionately incarcerated and the only possible explanation for this is systemic racism.

The museum makes me think that the work of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X was necessary and that their lives were tragically cut down because these two men were inspiring change and were making a difference. Because they were both killed it was like returning things back to normal and it is important to note that they both had tremendous followings. It is things like that they should get ones attention to what has gone on in America. This museum is another good way to get an understanding of what was going on in America in the past and why it should be recognized and understood today. Instead of talking about whiteness, however, I think it is important to name names and to talk about those who are in power and who perpetuate systems of racism. They are the ones we need to be addressing.

Tour 5

The TV dinner was invented by Gilbert Swanson, who inherited a frozen turkey company from his father. The rivalry that Swanson faced in the industry was basically that of the home-cooked meal. But WW2 got so many women out of the house and into the workplace that they were happy to have a frozen meal to heat up instead of having to cook one up themselves. After the war, the frozen TV dinner took off because TVs were getting into everyones home and that made the dinners popular. One brand that was competition was Campbells brand, which eventually bought out Swanson.

The TV dinner changed society by changing the way the American family thought about dinner. Dinner used to be a meal that was cooked and shared at the dinner table; everyone came together for it: dinner was a social and familial time. The TV dinner didnt change this all on its ownthe invention of the TV surely contributed to the transformationbut t also helped to ensure that people would move out of the kitchen into the living room where they could gather around the TV and be entertained by sitcoms instead of talking to one another and being part of each others lives.

The family nucleus was thus undermined by the arrival of the TV and the TV dinner. The focus went from a family coming together to a family coming apart. The food was no longer cooked at home; the womans role in the home was diminished; the children had the sense that the most important thing in life was what was communicated over the TV. TV thus had a controlling grasp on their lives.

TV dinner made them hooked on TV and its messaging. It was a powerful way for society to become hooked on the messaging that media was used to convey. Without TV dinner, millions of Americans might have stayed in the kitchen or dining room and focused on one another instead of on what the television had to say.

Tour 6

One historical place in Brooklyn is the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, located across from Prospect Park. This memorial is important because it honors those who fought in the Civil War for the North and for the Union. It is significant to history because it calls to mind the moment in the nations past when it was divided, brother against brother, and father against son. History is easy to forget when one is not obliged to remember itbut this memorial calls ones attention to the war and to the role that soldiers and sailors played in fighting for the preservation of the Union after the Southern states seceded.

It is also significant because so often the business of the city overwhelms and distracts. Yet this memorial does not change: it reminds one that even though the past may be forgotten, moments stay and linger and have an effect that is etched in time. So no matter how much business or how many distractions are evident in the heart of the city, the past is still there to catch the attention of the public and to get them to stop and think about it.

What would have happened if the sailors and soldiers of the North did not set down their lives for a few years to fight for the Union? The South would have won the war and the nation would have ended as it was known. The US would no longer exist as it does today. So this memorial is like a reminder that things might have ended differently. That is why it is important to honor those who gave up something of their own present for the sake of the future.


Food that Built America.

Museum and Memorial. Retrieved from

National Womens Hall of Fame. Retrieved from

Tour the Capital. Retrieved from

Tour of Mt. Rushmore. Retrieved from

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