SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, ILL. — As years go by, belongings sometimes survive the test of time and become a part of history, sharing what life was like in the past. The Stories and feelings they incite may help future generations understand what life was like. For Capt. Andy Peck, 375th Air Mobility Wing chaplain, the opportunity arose to share stories of his ancestors from the pre-Civil War era; an era Peck has a link to because of historical family heirlooms from seasons past.
Peck shared his family’s stories with the knowledge fresh in his mind. He sought out to share experiences of his ancestors’ with students at Scott Elementary School, a part of Scott Air Force Base, to broaden the children’s understanding of the past.
Reading from family dairies found in Mossy Creek, Tennessee dating back to the 1850’s. Peck helped the students understand various challenges people in the 1800’s faced. The students learned about many hardships his ancestors, Ada and Emma, faced. They were astonished when they heard the average life expectancy was about half of what it is today.
“I love history, and I love engaging with children,” said Peck. “I was hoping that there’s something about Ada and Emma’s story that would make the children ecstatic in learning more than just history.”
Students eagerly raised their hands to answer Peck’s questions with their faces lighting up in joy. The teachers at Scott Elementary noted the increased student participation, and interest in primary sources. A subject they were currently learning in class and the backbone of fundamental writing.
“Especially now it is so important for our students to be looking at personal records of major world events,” said Nikki Young, Scott Elementary School 4th grade teacher. “We have talked a lot about how our class is now a primary source for the impact of COVID-19. I hope that one day our students will be able to share their writing with their descendants.”
Among the audience of students were Peck’s sons who shared their father’s interest in their family’s history. Their excitement was the spark that ignited their fellow classmates’ interest in the subject. Inspiring Peck to share his family’s story with the students.
“I think it’s cool to expose them to a primary source because I think its one thing to learn about history,” said Peck. “But to actually hear the perspective of somebody who lived through it, and went through it, made the kids interested.”