A Letter to Mom about U.S. History

As with the earlier drawings, these personal essays remained a part of the classroom currency. Collectively, they defined “a day that will live in infamy.” This is a historical concept the students know and feel. Roosevelt’s words live.

The end of World War II was as dramatic as the beginning, illustrated by the students when each of them assumed the persona of someone who lived through it. One boy became a Hiroshima survivor; another became Thomas Ferebee, bombardier of the Enola Gay (the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima); and Robert created himself as Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay. Using the Internet, each student (during class and outside of class) researched his or her newly assumed self. The task Erika had assigned was for each to create a scrapbook (Schur, 2007) to show later when this class of elderly survivors would meet to share their memories.

Robert’s scrapbook included the following letter he wrote to his mom as Paul Tibbets (this is a letter Robert created—not a historical document) in which he told her that he named the Enola Gay after her, a fact that Cartier Replica Watches(http://www.replic8design.com/B-Replica-Cartier-Watches-26.html) amazed Robert when he did his research. Also, you will notice in his letter that Robert does not reveal that he will be dropping an “atomic” bomb, which he assumes would have been a military secret. He substituted a string of figures for the word “atomic.” Here is Robert’s letter:

Dear Mom,
They have been making me practice the drop of the &0640$ bomb. We are placed on one of the islands near the island of Japan. Today they have me flying the B-29 for a test for the drop. The bomb bay door would not open today so we had to cut the test early. They said that maybe the B-29 might affect the plane’s flight. Sorry I can’t go into details. They said that I could name the B-29 myself. So I gave it your name, the Enola Gay. I hope you like it. I will write you again after the drop.

Love, your son Paul when their scrapbooks were complete, the class of survivors gathered to show their mementos, tell their stories, and share their memories. One girl told about her brother, a D-Day survivor, and Robert responded, “I flew a plane in D-Day, dropped bombs on bunkers. That’s where they saw my skills and asked me to pilot the Enola Gay.” Erika and I found the students’ engagement in this conference impressive.

The conversation continued, and Moira told about her boyfriend who was killed in the Pacific, but she still has his promise ring. Robert commented, “I was engaged at the time I piloted the Enola Gay…. My dad died in a plane crash when I was a kid. That’s when I decided to be a pilot.”

We also heard from Carlise, an African American girl who researched Mildred Hemmons Carter, the first African American woman trained as a pilot at the Tuskegee Army Air Field, but she couldn’t fly in the Air Force because Cartier Replica(http://www.replic8design.com/B-Replica-Cartier-Watches-26.html) of her race and gender. In 1997 she finally received a medal of honor. Mildred Hemmons Carter is a person Carlise had never heard of and she became excited about Carter when she found her on the Internet.