Quantico Students Get Current Events, History Lesson
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2005 Elementary school students at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., got a combined current events and history lesson Dec. 13 from the wife of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Lynne Cheney spoke to students at W.W. Burrows Elementary School about the election taking place in Iraq on Dec. 15.
"What's happening is that the people in Iraq are going to vote for, what is in essence, their Congress, their national assembly," Cheney said. "It's a turning point, one of those things that when you're a grown-up, you will look in your history books and you will see that (the election) happened and you were alive and you were here."
Mrs. Cheney told the children what an accomplishment it was for Iraq to go from a dictatorship under Saddam Hussein to a budding democracy in just three years. She said the Iraqis' story presents an opportunity to think about America's history as well, and how it parallels Iraq's struggle to write a constitution and establish a democracy.
"What we did wasn't easy," she said. "I think on Thursday, when you watch television and you see millions of Iraqis voting, you ought to know what they have done isn't easy either," Cheney said.
When a student asked how the Iraqi constitution would benefit the country's children, she said the change would be significant. It gives them the chance to grow up in a very different society from the one they're used to, she said.
"If they're girls, they'll have the same rights and opportunities as if they're boys," she said. "And that's a different society from the brutal one they used to live in."
She told them that when the founding fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution, they said its purpose was to "secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity." That posterity, or legacy, included the Iraqi children, she said.
Noting that many students have parents serving in the armed forces, Mrs. Cheney told them they should be particularly proud of their parents and all servicemembers. Their efforts, she said, have helped make it possible for Iraq to take the first steps to democracy.
Mrs. Cheney later told the Pentagon Channel that it's important for children to understand that history doesn't just happen in the past, but is going on now as well. Putting the story in terms of people helps make it more understandable, she said, adding that talking with the kids presented a "teachable moment."
"You can talk about the significance of this event, but it also opens kids' minds up to talk about our own history and our own constitution and how we started on the path of liberty some 217 years ago," she said.