Wednesday, January 25, 2012

True Courage Has No Color (and being truly gifted has no score)

When I was in elementary and high school, I was in what was called the "Gifted" class.  The only criteria for being in the class was getting a certain grade on an IQ test--at or above that score, you were in.  Below that score, you were out.  I have no idea what my score was,  but I made it in and spent two hours every day in a special class, where we did really cool experiments and projects, but never had tests or grades.  It never, ever made sense to me, because obviously those of us in that class knew how to take tests well and make decent grades.  If any group could have benefitted from a fun, grade-less class, it would be the kids that were also smart but not wired to take tests as well.  But, it was the 70s and 80s, and no one asked my opinion about it all anyway.

While I was spending my time in gifted classes, my peers were in their regular science and history classes.  My classes were science heavy, but not a thing was included about history.  As a result, I did not graduate with much of a working knowledge of history, and this wasn't supplemented much in college.  It wasn't really until I started homeschooling my kids that I started learning anything significant about history at all.  In fact, history is my favorite subject to teach them (not so much for my boys, though--they may not be gifted, but they are definitely 'special' in their own ways...).

Fast forward 20-30 years, to present day.  I am finding that I am still learning my history lessons, and my latest one happened at the movie theater last week.  Turns out George Lucas has made a new movie that I probably would never have seen if I hadn't lost the coin toss to my husband about which movie we would see.  Turns out, I am glad I was on the losing end of that one, because that movie was a definite winner.

Red Tails tells the story of the Tuskegee Flying Airmen, an all-black fighter pilot squad during World War II.  I have been fascinated with stories of race relations and civil rights struggles for years, but I just did not know a thing about this story, and I really should have.  I don't know how much of the details were changed or embellished, but even if just the basic details are correct, this movie conveys a story that Americans need to know, regardless of their race or background.  It was well done, with a talented, diverse cast, and is the story of bravery and courage and honor.  These are themes that resonate at all times, but seem particularly important in our present culture.  I heard an interview with one of the actors, who stated (with me paraphrasing because I don't remember the exact quote), "Forget Michael Jordan or Michael Vick--these men are the true African American heroes.  These are the men who should be remembered and emulated".

I would expand it a bit by saying that beyond being just African American heroes, I think these guys are true American heroes for all races.  I hope lots of people see the movie, and then learn more about these brave men.


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