Grateful American™ Radio Show
David Bruce Smith’s Grateful American™ Foundation is dedicated to restoring enthusiasm in American history for kids, and adults.
Founded on President’s Day 2014, the mission of the organization is to provide insight and increase interest in the people and events that helped establish the United States. And the first phase of the project will highlight the work and lives of the founding presidents, from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln.
On July 4, 2016, David launched a new website that is 100% for kids, by kids: www.GratefulAmericanKids.com.
“It’s great to have adults teach children about history, but my colleagues and I at the Grateful American™ Foundation decided that it would be even better to have kids teach kids about their nation’s history,” says Smith, an author and publisher based in Washington, DC.
I’m Hope Katz Gibbs, executive producer of both projects. And I am thrilled to be here with David today at the historic site of Patrick Henry’s famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech — at St. John’s Church in Richmond, VA — to talk to David about this new project.
- Scroll down for our Q&A.
- Download our podcast interview now!
- Click here to listen to the students of the Steward School in Richmond, VA perform the rock music video, Grateful American™ Kids Rock!
Hope Katz Gibbs: What inspired you to launch Grateful American™ Kids?
David Bruce Smith: We’ve all seen the research about how 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, “Grateful American™ Kids,” will be fun and help stimulate some of those thoughts.
Hope Katz Gibbs: What are your goals for the project?
David Bruce Smith: GratefulAmericanKids.com will is focused solely on making history come to life for children. Every other month, we will feature a new cover story with a video that stars kids. And we’ll have a history book of the month, fascinating historic facts of the week, recipes from the Colonial era, art and essays by kids that features what they are learning in school about American history — and more!
Hope Katz Gibbs: Can you tell the audience what is the first video focused on?
David Bruce Smith: That one is going to be really fun. It’s called “Grateful American Kids Rock,” which you wrote the lyrics to. We had first, second, third and kindergarten students from the Steward School in Richmond perform it, and the music was written by two of the Steward School’s music teachers, Bonnie Anderson and John McAlister.
Hope Katz Gibbs: What will some of the other videos feature?
David Bruce Smith: We have already shot a video about Charles Willson Peale, who was a Revolutionary-era painter. And we’ll be doing one on Patrick Henry. Then we’ll head up to Mt. Vernon to feature George and Martha Washington, and to Lincoln’s Cottage later in 2017.
Hope Katz Gibbs: This approach to making history fun sounds like a better approach than textbooks, facts, and dates.
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.
Hope Katz Gibbs: When you were a kid, who was 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.
Hope Katz Gibbs: You also have a great appreciation for the nation’s 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.
- 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.
- Dolly 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.
- And I also have a lot of admiration for 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 would be president.
- Nancy Reagan was the non-pathological version of Mrs. Lincoln. I think that because she was not able to make it in 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.
Hope Katz Gibbs: If you could accomplish one thing with Grateful American™ Kids, 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.
Learn more about David’s Grateful American Foundation at GratefulAmericanFoundation.com.