My motivation for writing, producing and narrating a documentary on the history of the United States of America was simple. In a survey of graduates from a high school (I can’t remember which one), over 50% of those interviewed believed during World War II, America & Germany were allies against Russia. They missed several other questions about American history. Frankly, I was very upset by the ignorance of those students and the poor curriculum of the school from which they graduated.
The survey was the catalyst for my first documentary, “The Spirit of 76 – Renewed,” a two CD set about the history of the United States of America. I am now working on my second documentary called “The History of old Glory.”
Since I was a child, I’ve always had an interest in history. I had an extensive education on American history from several schools I attended while traveling with my parents during World War II. What I didn’t learn in school I learned from my parents, who home-schooled me while traveling in the back of a 1941 Chevrolet as we traveled back and forth across the U. S., several times, at 35 miles per hour (the national speed limit to conserve gas for the war effort).
As part of my research on the first documentary, I ordered some current American History books to see if they were accurate about American history. I found that most were substantially “right on”, except for one that must have been written by an America hater.
After checking a few high school textbooks, I discovered that many gave no information about American history, at all, and those that did were leaning toward social correctness and criticism of American traditions, rather than being concerned with historic accuracy. If the founding fathers were mentioned at all, they were ridiculed and criticized. (In some texts, American history was relegated to a footnote).
I watched “Watters’ World”, which only confirmed that I did the right thing in making my documentary. Waters interviewed a group of college students who were on Spring Break, in Florida, and later he questioned several people on the street about American history. Those who answered were totally ignorant of any history at all. One student thought Lincoln was our first President; none could name even two of the founding fathers (some even asked: “what is a founding father?”). Most did not know why the Revolutionary war was fought and who did America (then the colonies) fight? A few hadn’t any idea why the United States had a Civil War or if they did, did not know why it was fought. Some even asked, “Who won that war?” Most students had never heard of the second war for independence, the War of 1812. It has sometimes been labeled, President Madison’s War.
It was after the interviews with the high school students that I decided to set the record straight. I wrote the script, and recorded the CD’s, with the hope that I could distribute it to high schools as a supplement to their basic education. I had limited success. I guess this discloses the current trend of our public education.
I have given several copies to grandparents, with very positive feedback. Most have passed their CD’s to grandchildren or great-grandchildren, a practice that I certainly endorse. I am currently developing an internet site, to distribute the material to high school teachers in order to supplement their student’s basic education.
Why did I feel it was necessary to produce another history of the founding and development of the greatest governmental experiment in the world? Again, my attempt to set the record straight. The History of old Glory is also a two CD set and focuses on the history, development and significance of the American flag. I wrote the script and had it recorded by my daughter, Lynda Sampson. I can no longer record my CD’s because I have Parkinson’s disease and it has greatly affected my voice.
By the way, can you answer these three questions?
- Do you know how Old Glory got its name and who named it?
- Where and when was the Star-Spangled Banner written and what makes it unique from all the other American flags?
- Who sewed (made) the first American flag?
If you said: Frances Scott Key; the Revolutionary war and Betsy Ross; all of your answers are inaccurate. “The History of Old Glory” debunks many myths about the flag of the United States. I found the research of this subject quite fascinating. I hope to have this documentary available online before the end of the year.
I’m preparing to begin writing another history. This one will be about the history of slavery, in the world, and in America. I do not intend to white wash the subject, but to report the subject as accurately as I can. I’m sure there are as many myths about this subject, as there were in the first two subjects. I intend to ask my daughter if she will record this project, as well. I love being a documentarian because I can research and write about U.S. history, set the record straight and help high school students understand and appreciate their country.