The Daughters Of The American Revolution, El Presidio Chapter, Host Carden of Tucson Essay Contest WinnersFriday, February 12th, 2010
The Carden of Tucson is to be lauded for its educational focus on pivotal life changing events in American History, as was the development and construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad.
Railroads have been embedded in the American imagination since the early 1800′s. The proverbial iron horse traversed lands that horses and riverboats could not venture.
Our government knew well how vital the railroads were to the settlement of the West and the growth of a young economy. It was our government that made huge land grants and loans to entrepreneurs that were ultimately the force behind Manifest Destiny. You might say that these grants were one of the first “Stimulus Programs.”
No one beefed about government money in those days, at least not the rich.
This years Essay Contest, sponsored by the El Presidio Chapter of the Daughters Of The American Revolution, first organized in 1890, with a Tucson presence for 95 years, posed the following scenario to a group of middle school children.
Imagine you were living at the time of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Describe how you felt on May, 10th, 1869, when the golden spike was driven at the Promontory Summit, Utah, to celebrate the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. Pretend you are either settler planning to use the train to travel to your new home in the West, an Irish or Chinese worker who helped build the line, or a Native American whose way of life was greatly affected by the railroad.
The DAR ceremony began with great decorum including the posting of colors by the Flowing Wells Jr. ROTC.
As the children read their essays covering the time, travails and geography of the movement west, I could feel the romance that engaged a nation in the first long distance travel chock full of adventure and new starts for many Americans. These kids did a wonderful job capturing not just the romance and unpredictable tales of daily life, but also at what expense the railroad worker had to subject himself for a paycheck. Their lives were bleak and the conditions were harsh. The Central Pacific Railroad hired many thousands of Chinese would could otherwise not be employed, while the Union Pacific employed Irish immigrants, famished and starved from the Potato Famine, and desperate out-of-work Civil War Veterans to lay track across some incredibly dangerous terrain that was populated by hostile Indian warriors. Illness and injuries took the lives of nearly 20.000.
Our student essayists chronicled these history making laborers with their award winning narratives. I plan to attach the essays to this blog sometime this weekend.
The 2010 Carden Academy of Tucson winners of the DAR American History Essay Contest are:
Tatianna Sierra 5th grade
Kristiana Weaver 6th grade
Nathaniel Unruh 7th grade
Blake Tanner 8th grade
Congratulations young Americans! And, thank you to the teachers of the Carden of Tucson.
A special thank you to the Daughters of the American Revolution for keeping our history alive and meaningful to our youth.