grandkids, back to school, and Virginia history…

1-IMG_0967Today marks the beginning of school for David and Beks, so Rebekah and I drove up to Richmond to spend the last day of summer with them. Their enthusiasm and their absolute delight with life is contagious and we pretty-much exhausted ourselves watching. First grade and Kindergarten are going to be a big, wonderful adventure.

Both children decided it was okay for Rebekah to give them back-to-school haircuts, then we all headed out to a gourmet burger place in downtown Richmond (Station 2) before heading over to the state capitol for the afternoon. Jefferson, Washington, Lee and the others didn’t know what hit them.

It was hotter than hot, the air was crystal clear, and the sun shone with piercing intensity. But the children were curious and we managed some serious talks about history, especially the Civil War. We stood around the statue of General Lee in the old chamber and explained what was so wrong about the decisions he made and why Lee and many other leaders of the Confederacy were not romantic heroes of a glorious cause but treasonous and without excuse.

There are a thousand appropriate ways to effect domestic change, and tramping armies over other Americans is not one of them. Our Constitution provides a carefully calibrated balance of legislative, executive, and judicial powers. We can argue all we like, we can vote people in and out of office, we can march in the streets, we can bring our issues to court… but we do not take to violence when our faction, or our party, or our prejudice does not get its own way.

We will be back, of course, sharing the stories and seeing landmarks and battlefields all over the world, and these conversations will continue. I am so glad that our grandchildren are interested in their world, curious, and beginning to understand what we can learn from history.

When we returned to the apartment, we put together a puzzle of the United States.. intact… one nation. It seemed like the right thing to do.

Check out these photographs, some of them are spectacular – DEREK







Civil War life photography The Grandaddy Letters The Story Travel

derekmaul View All →

Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at, and there’s always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

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