This started as an email to my two favorite Air Force wives. I decided it needed a larger audience.
I taught all the English II students yesterday. I taught 190 kids in three class periods. It's sort of the price you pay for spending a month doing nothing but Shakespeare. You get to be the expert.
We're taking all of these kids to a production of Julius Caesar next week. I have more to say about this later, in a loving post about another family member. Today is a different story. What you need to know here is that I used the time to do a quick orientation to the play and to live theatre in general before we took them to see the show.
It wasn't a perfect day by any means. There were kids who expressed how oppressed they were because we're asking them to leave their ipods at home and turn off their cell phones while dressed up and not allowed to leave the auditorium for two hours. I had to address why it's not a good idea to assert that Brutus is a pimp (I instead pointed them to the idea that Marc Antony is more of a pimp). But in every class period, I caught a couple of kids with that vague smile, mouth slightly open, head tilted to the side that indicated that they got it.
Most of them, however, latched onto one idea. All the Senators who conspired to kill Caesar were his friends. They didn't get it. Their entire lives right now are about protecting their friends, how could anyone who is considered honorable ever conspire to murder their friends?
I am not comfortable with murder. I am not comfortable with violence. My job, however, is to illuminate this literature and I will always get chills down my spine when I give the reason for this murder. "Not that I love Caesar less, but that I love Rome more." These men were so committed to the idea of the Republic, of self government, that no relationship mattered more. The kids are starting to get their heads around this idea.
At the end of the day, we gathered in the gym for the Veteran's Day assembly. It occurred to me sitting in that gym that perhaps this event was the perfect closure for my lesson that day. We spent an hour hearing from and honoring men and women who love Rome more.
When a soldier enters the military, the whole family enlists in a sense. This Veteran's Day, I think not only of both of my grandfathers, one of whom made a career in the US Air Force, but I think of my Grandma, aunts and uncles, and (surprise!) my father, who all served their country in countless separations and cross country moves. I think not only of The Crib Chick's Sergeant Rooster, but of her and all those peeps. I think not only of my baby cousin who can't possibly be old enough to be sent to Afghanistan, but of his baby and of my aunt who will raise him while his father is gone.
I cannot fully understand it, but I get a chill when I think of how all of these people love Rome more.