Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year!!!

The chances are 99.9% that you will sing, hum, or listen to someone sing "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight on New Year's Eve. So why do we sing this song?  Very few people know the words...and even fewer people know the true origins/ meaning of the song that has become "The New Year's Eve National Anthem" since how did this tradition come about?
This Robert Burns poem/ song originated as a Scottish folk tune and was originally written as an emotional response to the massive exodus of Scottish immigrants to America and Canada in the late 18th century.  The song asks the sad and beautiful question...
"Should auld acquintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?"
The interpretation...
"will we forget our old friends and the good times we had with them...never...
let's lift a strong drink to help us remember the times gone by..."
Auld Lang Syne Statue...Central Park in NYC

In 1929, "Auld Lang Syne" truly became famous when band leader- Guy Lombardo played it live on national radio from The Roosevelt Hotel Dance Hall in New York City. May we never forget our friends, family, etc. who have made a difference in our lives in "times gone by"!
My Scottish ancestors buried near Lockerbie, Scotland in "times gone by"
Listen to "Auld Lang Syne"

Monday, December 24, 2012

WWI: Christmas Peace

British and German troops in No Man's Land "Peace"

December 24, 1914...temporary humanity, empathy, and peace found a place on WWI battlefields as British and German soldiers initiated an unofficial ceasefire...singing songs, exchanging gifts, helping each other bury the dead, playing soccer, eating meals...
Christmas Truce 1914

Watch the you tube clip (00:30-5:20) for interviews and stories of this amazing story:
German and British substitute soccer for bullets!

"We must never forget that there is something within human nature that can respond to goodness..."

                                                     -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Kill the Jellyfish: Nativism

NATIVISM aka Anti-Immigrant Xenophobia...a movement to ensure that native-born Americans receive better treatment (government policy, jobs, etc.) than certain "undesirable", "barbaric" , or "un-American" immigrants.
1920 Raids...Arrests...Deportations
Over the past 20 years, America has experienced an alarming rise of anti-immigrant hatred and violence mostly from groups who call themselves "True Americans" or "Patriots". There are currently over 200 nativist/ anti-immigrant groups in America proving that the "jellyfish is alive and well".  
This "new growth" of anti-immigrant xenophobia is really nothing new...
As America makes the claim to be a "Nation of Immigrants",  consider some of our actions toward certain "undesirable" immigrants..
1840-1920...many Anti-German, Irish, Catholic, Jewish Laws
1850's...The Know Nothing Party forms 
1882...Chinese Exclusion Act
1920's...KKK & government led "Red Scare"
1924...Immigration Quota Act
1942...Executive Order 9066 & 9102...Internment Camps
1950's...McCarthyism and "Red Scare"
Post 9-11...Patriot Anti-Terrorism Act
2005...Minuteman Border Patrol
2007...Aztlan Conspiracy
2010-2012...164 new anti-immigrant laws passed

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

America: The Hope of the World

Ellis Island & The Statue of Liberty
"A symbol of hope to the outcasts and downtrodden of the world"

I often wonder about... my immigrant ancestors...
I know their names but...who were they as people...
how did they survive...what did they think...
how did they feel...what did they believe...
what questions would I ask them...
would I be proud of them?
 maybe a better question...
would they be proud of me?
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...
yearning to breathe free!"

Monday, December 17, 2012

A True American Hero...Dead

Daniel Inouye, a WWII veteran (Bronze Star...Purple Heart...Distinguished Service Star...Congressional Medal of Honor) and longtime U.S. Senator (since 1963) from Hawaii has passed away today at the age of 88.  His amazing strength of spirit, ability to overcome extreme racial prejudice, and unrelenting service to our country can be an inspiration to us all.

Watch the attached youtube...
as Mr. Inouye describes his actions in Italy during WWII.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


"Nothing can stand in my way... that didn't stand in yours more."

"PSA: A Girl Interviews Her Mother"

This short video clip (2:57)...
helps me appreciate the sacrifices of my parents...
I hope it helps you appreciate yours and work hard to make them proud!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

What Is The Cost?

What is the cost of knowing our past?
What is the cost of not? 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fool's Gold

Wounded Knee Massacre
"The Cost of Black Hills Gold"
December 1890

To what...extreme of wickedness...dost thou not drive the hearts of mortals, accursed hunger of gold?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Winter Storms

Today, while shoveling snow (over12 inches) and watching the Vikings trounce the Bears...I thought about my top 5 most memorable snowstorms. I was living in Chicago (1983-1995) so I missed some monster storms like the 1991 Halloween Blizzard...Here goes...

Number 5...April 1979: Ada, Minnesota- A mid-April snowstorm cancelled our track meet and later helped contribute to major spring flooding...which at that time was called the "Flood of the Century". We got several days off from school to build sandbag dikes.
Sandbag Dike
Number 4...December 31, 1971: Glyndon, Minnesota- The "New Year's Eve" Blizzard made it a very quiet and cold night. I remember listening to the radio announcer tell stories of "Snowmobile Ambulances" bringing pregnant ladies to the hospital in Fargo to deliver their babies.
1970 Artic Cat Puma

Number 3...January 1975: Glyndon, Minnesota- After this 3 day storm called the "Super Bowl" Blizzard, I remember digging down 6 or 7 feet to try and find my dad's 1972 Plymouth Fury buried under a huge drift. We finally found the antenna and dug her out! What made it even worse...theVikings lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-6.

1972 Plymouth Fury III
Number 2...March 1966: Hankinson, North Dakota- This "spring" storm produced snow drifts 20-30 feet high.  I remember driving into the country for my piano lessons through a "tunnel of snow"!!!
1966 North Dakota

Number 1...December 1983: Leeds, North Dakota- The worst combination of snow, wind, and cold I've ever experienced!  We spent Christmas suffering through a blinding blizzard and several days of -100 below wind chills. It was so cold your spit would freeze before it hit the ground!!! I fondly remember finding the barn with my grandpa to help with chores, being "stuck" inside with 20+ relatives, and raiding my grandma's Christmas cookies every chance I got! 


Saturday, December 8, 2012


Dave Brubeck Quartet
Dave Brubeck, jazz pianist and composer passed away December 5th at the age of 91. He was famous for organizing Dave Brubeck's Quartet and for using uncommon time signatures like 5/4 and 9/8 time (as compared to the more common 4/4 and 3/4 time meters) to create a very "groovy" sound.  His death in combination with our current studies on Westward Expansion and it's negative effect on Native American culture have caused me to wonder...what if?

What if our Founding Fathers would have lived up to our nation's guiding axiom of "All Men Are Created Equal" and not exterminated/ marginalized the "beautiful sounding instrument" of Native Culture?!?

What beautiful music they could have made together...instead they chose the "dissonance of superiority and singing out of tune in a minor key"...

Listen to Brubeck Quartet's most famous song
 "Take Five"...the "Harmony of What If"...

My hope is that my students and our great nation will keep striving toward that intended "Harmony" of "All Men Are Created Equal"! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Day Which Will Live In Infamy?

Bob Kerr, a veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor (less than 5% of 75,000 are still alive) was being introduced while speaking at a high school near his home and the teacher said, "Mr. Kerr will be talking to you today about Pearl Harbor..."

One of the students raised their hand and asked, "Pearl Harbor?  Who is she?"

Can you imagine anyone not knowing December 7, 1941?!? 

Maybe it isn't that astounding when you consider that students (and most adults) really don't know much about their history.  Results of national testing revealed that only 13% of high school seniors could be considered proficient in U.S. History according to the National Assessment of Education Progress Report.

This pathetic statistic should motivate all of us to do our best to remember our past! Not just to get a grade or pass a test...but to really think critically about our history so it can inform us about our present and lead us to a better future!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hitler and The American Holocaust

How many Native Americans lived in the area now known as the United States pre-Columbus 1492?

Scholarly estimates generally tend to range between 8 and 20 million indigenous people! By 1900, the United States census showed the Native American population at 250,000...this was truly an American Holocaust.  A genocide of massive proportions planned and deliberate! A few examples:

1803- Thomas Jefferson...Indian Civilization Program
1817- James Monroe...Indian Assimilation Program
1829- Andrew Jackson...Indian Removal Act
1860's- Abraham Lincoln...Indian & Dakota Wars
1860's- 1870's- U.S. Grant...Total War Strategy
1887- Grover Cleveland...The Dawes Act
American Holocaust Full Documentary (30 minutes)

Hitler's ideas for concentration camps and genocide owed much to his reading of American History books and it's treatment of Native Americans. He often praised "the efficiency of America's extermination by starvation and combat of the red savages".  The land where "All Men Are Created Equal" inspiring a mad man...

Let us never remember only one Holocaust and forget another!

More empty words?
President Obama signing the Native American Apology Resolution
December 2009

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Jimi

Today would have been Jimi Hendrix's 70th birthday...but like so many of his contemporaries he cut his life short at the young age of 27 by using LSD...amphetamines...alcohol...sleeping pills, etc. 
With the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, assassinations, and psychedelic drugs as his background music...he was arguably (though not a great role model) one of the greatest electric guitar players ever. He was one of many who used his music to question the world he lived in..."that's all I'm singing's today's blues."

Here is a youtube of Jimi performing one of my favorites...
Hendrix interpretation of Bob Dylan's
All Along the Watchtower

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Reading is Revolutionary

Freedwoman Learning to Read
circa 1870

Freedman Schools were one of the most successful programs within the Freedman's Bureau...with over 4,000 schools built between 1865-1877. Unfortunately, these schools reached only 10% of 4 million possible African-American students of the South...because of lack of money, racism, etc.  
What is the current commitment to reading/ education in our culture? 
Considering that the Federal budget allocates only 4% of it's yearly budget to education and 6% to pay down the interest on our national debt...the question is a good one to ponder! Not to mention the amount of time texting, watching "mindless" television, etc. vs. nightly studies/ homework...
What reading does...a very short list.
Allows us to dream.
Takes us around the world.
Builds critical thinking skills.
Teaches us to pursue truth...freedom...justice...the best in others...

Oscar Wilde

I feel the legendary Irish writer and playwright Oscar Wilde says it best:
"It is what you read when you don't have
to that defines what you will be..."


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The "First" Thanksgiving

When does Black Friday start?!?
When was the "first" Thanksgiving in North America (Turtle Island)? 

Most of us were taught the "traditional story" (many historical myths surrounding this event) that in 1621 the Wampanoag Indians helped the Pilgrims to survive at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts and were invited by the Pilgrims to enjoy the fruits of their harvest at the first Thanksgiving feast.

There are many other claims to the "first" Thanksgiving:

St. Augustine, Florida...1565
James River Colony, Virginia...1619
Plymouth, Massachusetts...1621(Traditional Story)
Massachusetts Official Thanksgiving...1637
(Giving thanks for the death of 600 Native Americans)
Plymouth, Massachusetts...1676
(Giving thanks for the death of Metacom & 4,000 Native Americans)
Abraham Lincoln...1863
(Thanksgiving Proclamation as an official National Holiday)
Nanepashemet- Wampanoag Historian
It is hard to celebrate the "first" Thanksgiving when we begin to realize that the "first" Thanksgiving led to a betrayal of friendship...lies...broken treaties...genocide...forced assimilation...reservations...lost languages...poverty...

So what can we take out of Thanksgiving beyond massive amounts of food, parades, football, holiday advertising, the materialistic buying frenzy of Black Friday, past/ current sins against indigenous people groups, and the comfortable myths of the "first" Thanksgiving?
This is where I feel we must return to the "first" Thanksgiving to relearn valuable missed lessons:
Take responsibility for your actions...ask for forgiveness.
Learn from your mistakes.
Stand for integrity, honor, truth, justice, and reconciliation.
Give freely with a true heart to those who have nothing.
Give without holding back...the true way to earn respect.
Thanksgiving comes not once a year, but everyday.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Jellyfish Theory

Turritopsis Nutricula

The Theory of Transdifferentiation aka The Jellyfish Theory is a way to study ISMS (racism, sexism, nativism, imperialism, nationalism, etc.) in our history class and investigate how ISMS survive in various shapes and forms over time.  The reason we call it The Jellyfish Theory is based on the Turritopsis Jellyfish which is often called The Eternal Jellyfish.  This jellyfish transforms and reprograms itself from one cellular state to another through a process called transdifferentiation.  It truly is a jellyfish that does not die...unless killed!

For example using racism as our jellyfish:

The Black Codes
Jim Crow Laws
Dejure & Defacto Segregation
Racial Profiling
Police Brutality
Government Programs
Institutional Racism
Mass Incarceration
Media & Entertainment Racism
As you can see, it important before we start "Killing the Jellyfish" we must be very aware of what they look like and where they exist!  They are in the land where "ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL"...they are everywhere...
apartheid...caste systems...genocide...ethnic cleansing, etc. and this is just one ISM!
Have we lost our dream...of killing jellyfish?



Thursday, November 15, 2012


No matter what era of history we study there will always be common themes behind each and every historical event.The Big Umbrella is how we approach this concept of United States History at RHS.  The question could simply be stated:
What is the engine that drives history?
What is really behind (overarching themes) this event?
The Big Umbrella is "The Engine" or main theme behind the plot of historical events.  I feel that there are 5 major themes that are always present as "The Big Umbrella". Here are the 5 themes we try to get our students to identify behind historical events (and behind current events):
Political Power  
Religion/ Cultural Ideas

Another Look at The Big Umbrella?

"But Coach Fogs...what about me?!?"



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Funny WWII History Lesson

Sometimes students tend to get down on themselves after a rough test...the important thing is to learn from your mistakes and to continually look to improve. These are also attributes that will help you to be successful in the "real world".

George Washington Carver

"Start where you are, with what you have. Make something of it and never be satisfied."
                                                              - George Washington Carver

Here's a funny skit from SNL on WWII History to lift your spirits!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"I only did my duty."


William Carney
Today in class we studied William Carney...the first African- American in United States History to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  He received this award in 1900 (delayed by racism of the day) for his heroics during the Civil War at the Battle of Ft. Wagner. 
Lt. Col. Herbert Carter
This lesson reminded me of an African-American Congressional Gold Medal recipient whose medal was delayed for over 60 years!  Lt. Col. Herbert Carter passed away recently at the age of 95 on November 8th.  He was 1 of the 33 original Tuskegee Airmen and  flew 77 combat missions over the European Theatre during WWII.  President Bush awarded him and other Tuskegee Airmen the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. A true American hero who fought for freedom and justice at home and abroad.

YouTube...My Greatest Challenge


Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Remembering" History

Whenever Hollywood (Steven Spielberg's Lincoln in this case) makes a movie "based on history", I read a book, Google search "information", or even listen to myself lecture...I caution my students to think about "how they remember" and as much as possible to rely on Primary Sources as "their lens" to history.

Why do we remember certain stories?

1. The story that is told usually "wins".  For example:
  • The Great Emancipator: Abraham Lincoln "freed the slaves."
  • Gettysburg Day 2: Little Round Top...what about Culp's Hill...The First Minnesota?
  • The Civil Rights Movement started with Rosa Parks and Dr. King.
  • "Weapons of Mass Destruction."
2. Those who have power can manipulate history.  For example:
  • Government
  • News Media
  • Publishers
  • Teachers...ouch!
3. We tend to "choose the positive" and the "comfortable myth".   For example:
  • The North and South "fighting for noble causes" during the Civil War.
  • "Remember the Maine!"
  • The Gulf of Tonkin Incident
  • Lee Harvey Oswald...

Geoffrey Barraclough quote..."to make anything out of history one must read, and consider, and reconsider, and than read some more." ...and maybe watch alot of college football to escape reality!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Veterans Day


Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day and was meant to celebrate the end of major hostilities in WWI which ended at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

Early traditions included 2 "Minutes of Silence" at 11 a.m.  The first minute to remember the 20+ million people who lost their lives during WWI and the second minute to pray for the living who had lost loved ones. 

In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower officially signed into law the changing of Armistice Day to Veterans honor all veterans.

Veterans Day seems to be a forgotten holiday by many (especially students) across the United States.  Once a solemn celebration to the dedication and sacrifice of U.S. Military seems to have been forgotten in many cities, schools, and organizations across the country.  I fondly remember honoring and listening to the stories of WWI, WWII, Korean, and Vietnam Veterans during school assemblies and the lasting impact these stories had on my life...a much longer lasting impact than text messaging, "reality" TV or even sitting in U.S. History class!!!

A famous poem "In Flanders Fields" (a generic term for WWI battlefields) was popularized by the soldier and poet John is the first verse.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
between the crosses, row on row.
That mark our place; and in the sky
the larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.


The Inaugural Blog

Welcome to Fog's RHS US History Blog.  Time to start hunting jellyfish!!!