Grateful American™ Radio Show
“You have to know where you came from to know where you are going,” insists David Bruce Smith, a Washington, DC-based author and publisher who recently penned American Hero: John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States.
That’s why in January 2014 he launched The Grateful American™ Series — a radio show, TV series, and guidebook that he’s launching with his show on the Inkandescent Radio Network.
To get the conversation started, we sat down with David in the Washington, DC headquarters of his company, David Bruce Smith Publications.
In this podcast interview you’ll learn:
- Why David wanted to create The Grateful American™ Series
- How his father, Robert H. Smith, inspired him
- The facts about how many kids, and adults, aren’t ramped up on the country’s history
- What this series will do to get more people excited about American history
Download the podcast now!
- Read David’s History column on Be Inkandescent magazine.
- Learn more about The Grateful American™ Series and subscribe to David’s monthly newsletter here.
- Scroll down to read our Q&A from this podcast! Here’s to being a Grateful American!
The Joy of Being a Grateful American
Inkandescent Radio: What inspired you to launch the series?
David Bruce Smith: Generally, kids are not being taught history, effectively and with that comes the tendency to slough it off. We need to have the same feeling of patriotism that existed after 9/11, but without the framework of a disaster. I think the title, “The Grateful American™ Series,” will help stimulate some of those thoughts.
Inkandescent Radio: What are your goals for the project?
David Bruce Smith: One would be to encourage the teaching of history in the most interesting, innovative way possible. To do that, schools need to find the most qualified people. Otherwise, kids will turn off—fast.
Inkandescent Radio: Do you think textbooks, which can be less than riveting, are part of the problem?
David Bruce Smith: Textbooks can be part of the problem, in that they cover the sweep of history unevenly or not at all. Sometimes, they are also too complicated and verbose. I think it’s good to mix standard texts with films, biographies, diaries, and guest speakers.
Inkandescent Radio: Adults don’t seem to know much more than kids when tested on their knowledge of American history. Do you think this is really a problem, and if so, why?
David Bruce Smith: Adults having little knowledge about American history? I think this shows the problem has existed for a long time. It’s hard to fix those deficiencies, but you can make it up by educating this generation and the upcoming one, conscientiously. A standardized test is not going to fix it, because all that means is cramming in a lot of dates, which are quickly forgotten.
Inkandescent Radio: What are some solutions to getting more kids and adults excited about knowing American history, and re-igniting our passion for the people who founded the country?
David Bruce Smith: Qualified teachers, and more visits to historical sites. School budgets are tight; I don’t know why local and national businesses don’t contribute funds to make these outings possible. It would be an investment in their future employees. I would also encourage more interactive lessons, and getting historians, authors, and key people from the presidential homes to visit schools.
Inkandescent Radio: In the Grateful American™ Series, you are interviewing the leaders of the nation’s biggest presidential homes—including Mt. Vernon, Monticello, Montpelier, Lincoln’s Cottage, as well as the national museum at Gettysburg at Franklin’s House in London. What are some of your favorite things about each home?
David Bruce Smith: Except for Lincoln Cottage, all of the other homes were owned by Founding Fathers. These were the men who made it possible for all of us to live in this wonderfully free society—in the best country in the history of the world.
Inkandescent Radio: Who is your favorite president, and why?
David Bruce Smith: Definitely Abraham Lincoln. Ever since I was a little boy, Lincoln was my favorite for one reason: he freed the slaves. Had he not, it would have been many years before anybody else was bold and brave enough to do it.
Inkandescent Radio: You also have a passion for the First Ladies, and the women who shaped America’s early history. Why is that, and what are some of your favorites stories about these ladies?
David Bruce Smith: Some of the First Ladies are under-recognized for their contributions to their husband’s successes. For example: Had it not been for Abigail Adams, I don’t think John Adams would have become president. He was difficult and moody, but she evened him out. Dolley Madison filled in the weaknesses of James Madison. He was bookish and scholarly, but she was the one with personality and she was the perfect hostess. As a couple they were a perfect combination. Mary Todd Lincoln: even with her justifiable mental illness, she was intelligent, advised Lincoln well, and was prescient. Thirty years before the inauguration, she informed the Todd family that one day, Abraham will be president. Nancy Reagan was the non-pathological version of Mrs. Lincoln. I think that because she was not able to make it the movies, she channeled all of her ambition, love, and energy into his career. Eleanor Roosevelt was probably the best First Lady in history. She was FDR’s legs, ears, and trusted advisor.
Inkandescent Radio: If you could accomplish one thing with The Grateful American™ Series what would it be?
David Bruce Smith: To develop an appreciation for history. This shouldn’t be a difficult thing to do, especially if the challenge is properly framed. If one thinks about the whole—or a piece—of it as an Ancestry.com on the country, it should make more sense, and be fun to learn.
About David Bruce Smith
David Bruce Smith has a bachelor’s degree in American Literature from George Washington University, and a master’s in Journalism from New York University. During the past 20 years he has been a real estate executive and the editor-in-chief/publisher of Crystal City Magazine.
He is the author of 11 books: “In Many Arenas,” • “13 Young Men, Tennessee,” • “Three Miles From Providence,” • “Conversations with Papa Charlie,” • “Afternoon Tea with Mom,” • “Letters to My Children,” • “Building the Community,” • “Continuum,” • “Building My Life,” • and his most recent, “American Hero: John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States.”
His company David Bruce Smith Publications, specializes in creating, designing, and composing limited-edition books on a variety of subjects: authors, historic figures, artists, and leaders. Several are about the amazing life-story of real estate developer and philanthropist Charles E. Smith. David Bruce Smith Publications is committed to educating young children through books, literature, and historic sites.
For more information, visit davidbrucesmith.com.