Part of a blog series celebrating America for Independence Day, an article about 2 places in Virginia that celebrate America. July 2013. Written under maiden name Emily Harris. (Original Link)
FINDING MY ROOTS: EMILY’S “HOMETOWN”
By Emily Harris
My childhood was a little different from the standard American girl. After spending the first 10 years of my life moving around Virginia, my family left the USA for Central Asia. I grew up with friends from all four corners of the world and got to have many fun experiences. After high school, I bounced around and lived in a variety of cities like London, New York, and Springfield, Missouri. I even moved back to Central Asia and worked as a teacher for a time.
Thankfully, there was one place that I could consider “home,” and that was Virginia. Virginia was where my family went for Christmas. It was my home during my summers off from university. Virginia has been a place synonymous with refreshment and family for me.
Virginia has also been the state that has taught me about America. With all of its history and culture, it has been in Virginia that I have learned what it means to be an American, an identity that I have often wondered if I can claim.
I love Virginia’s history. The state has been through a lot, and there are many places scattered throughout that allow for Virginians and tourists to both celebrate America and learn from America. My absolute favorite places to do this are the many living museums we have.
Colonial Williamsburg is a fascinating place to visit. It offers people to an opportunity to go back in time. One minute you can be walking down the street in July 2013 and then suddenly you’ve gone back in time to a world where American beliefs and rights were not yet actualized.
I got the chance to go to Williamsburg last spring with my best friend. There were two things that stuck out to me during our visit. The first was that before we entered Williamsburg, we visited a colonial farm and we got to listen to a speaker about the life of the slaves in Williamsburg. It was difficult to consider that while our forefathers wrote beautiful documents about rights and fought for their freedom, there were still people who would be denied such freedom for many more years. It was a sobering discussion and left me with a more perceptive eye as I explored the rest of the city.
Second, as my friend and I wandered about the town, we found a woman dressed as a soldier. She shared with us about the many women who fought in the revolution and the things that they went through. Again I was struck with how true the words of Thomas Jefferson are and yet how much of a struggle it really has been for our country to understand what it means for all to be equal.
Places like Colonial Williamsburg are great for helping people take what is learned in school and applying it in a real setting. Another great place to do this in Virginia is the Frontier Culture Museum of Staunton, VA.
The Frontier Culture Museum has chosen to share the history of Virginia by looking at the various people who settled Virginia. This is achieved with the various homes reconstructed of the ones that the settlers of Virginia would have either left behind in the Old World or created in the New.
What I love about the Frontier Culture Museum is that it helps me understand who my ancestors are and why Virginia became their home. Personally, I feel a connection with these people for I too have experienced a world outside of America and yet have chosen to live in Virginia. Getting a chance to understand these people a little bit more has allowed me a chance to understand my state and country more. It has also impressed upon me the importance of my freedoms and rights as an American instead of taking them for granted.