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This set of 5 plays and 5 quizzes dips into the lives of 30 American heroes and heroines - from the American War of Independence, from the Underground Railway, from the world of science, from different walks of life such as entertainment and including children, and great Native Americans - all of whom strove against massive odds, and came out on top - an inspiration to us all.
Sample Texts for American Heroes
Play 1 Heroes of the American War of Independence
George Washington Samuel Adams John Adams
Thomas Paine Benjamin Franklin Paul Revere
Paine: But what always struck me about this learned gentleman - right from the very first time I met him in England - was his tremendous sense of humor!
Revere: Here! Here! I remember telling the missus, after she'd invited some friends to stay "Fish and visitors smell after three days"! And because these were Franklin's words, she threw them out the next day!
S. Adams: Just as well in a house your size! How did you ever fit your 16 children in there, I wonder!
Revere: It was a bit of a tight fit! But then I suppose, unlike my poor missus, I was out and about most of the time!
Franklin: You can say that again! One of our finest couriers! What would we have done without you!
J. Adams: I always wondered if the size of your family had anything to do with the number of rides you went off on! Sorry, no disrespect, only joking!
Washington: Well, riding past those Redbacks, carrying vital information to different parts of the country - that took huge courage!
Play 2 Heroes of the Underground Railroad - an example of ‘Good Triumphing over Evil' and ‘ordinary' people leading ‘extraordinary' lives
Ex-Slaves: Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas and Josiah Henson
White Abolitionists: Laura Haviland, Levi Coffin and Thomas Garret
Coffin: All of us prepared to risk our lives to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
Garret: Those on the run! Shows how desperate they were - running against all odds on the small chance they'd find freedom.
Tubman: But then we all played our parts in reducing those odds. I was a guide
Douglas: And one of the finest! What was it they called you?
Tubman: Moses! Maybe because of my part in leading around 300 slaves, on 19 trips, from slavery in the South to freedom in the North.
Douglas: An amazing woman! Though one you really wouldn't want to fall out with!
Tubman: If you're referring to my "Go on or die" routine, you're right! I had to be tough and I never lost a soul!
Haviland: Would you really have shot any who refused to carry on?
Tubman: Reckon so! Too many other lives at stake to mess with weakness!
Coffin: A tough exterior! But underneath beat a heart of gold! What about those nursing duties you performed during the civil war?
Garret: And all the work you did after the civil war, trying to improve the lot of African Americans?
Douglas: Exactly! Look at all you did to further our education!
Henson: To say nothing of actually converting your own home into a shelter for the poor and elderly.
Haviland: And campaigning for voting rights for women! Was there no limit to your energy?
Coffin: No wonder you were buried with military honors! Recognition at last!
Play 3 Native American Heroes
Sitting Bull (Sioux leader) Geronimo (Apache warrior) Chief Joseph (Nez Perce leader)
Tecumseh (Shawnee leader) Pocahontas (daughter of Chief Powhatan)
Sacagawea ( ‘guide' on Lewis & Clark's trans-continent expedition)
Sacagawea: And not all white men were bad, you know! That William Clark was a real gentleman!
Chief Joseph: At least he treated you like human beings!
Geronimo: And not as bloodthirsty savages!
Sitting Bull: Huh! Never trust a white man! Not when there's a whiff of gold in the air, anyway!
Chief Joseph: Too right! My tribe was offered a reservation of over 7 million acres by the government one minute, and then a reservation of just under 800,000 the next! What was that all about?
Geronimo: Sounds a bit like the ‘Hell's Forty Acres' we were offered!
Sitting Bull: Hmm! We all lost out to the white man's greed! The Black Hills ours one minute - gone the next!
Chief Joseph: We never regained our beloved Wallowa Valley. My poor people!
Pocahontas: A tragic tale indeed.
Sacagawea: Indeed! To have fled so far - 1,700 miles. And then 3 months later ..
Chief Joseph: 200 of my 800 people dead. Chased by 2000 U.S. troops - like animals!
Tecumseh: And so close to freedom! Just 40 miles short of Canada!
Play 4 Heroes in Science
Neil Armstrong (astronaut: first man to walk on the moon)
Christa McAuliffe (teacher and astronaut)
Albert Einstein (one of the world's greatest ever geniuses)
Jonas Salk (developed Polio vaccine)
Mary Edwards Walker (first female surgeon in U.S. army)
Rachel Carson (great environmentalist)
Einstein: Yes. Ignorance is a terrible thing.
Salk: Thank goodness there are people around who are not afraid to tell the truth. Like you were saying about having science work for and against you ...
Carson: Exactly. It's all about balance.
Armstrong: And maintaining that balance, on our planet, is so important.
McAuliffe: Man can be such an interfering old busybody - with awful consequences!
Carson: Quite! Namely, upsetting the natural balance and poisoning our world in the process!
Salk: Chemicals! What does it take to convince people of their potentially harmful effects?
Carson: A lot of dead songbirds, in my case!
Walker: Poisoned by that plane carrying pesticides! A ‘battle' against mosquitoes that ended up killing the innocent local wildlife as well!
Carson: Indeed. And they had no-one to nurse them back to health!
Walker: And undoubtedly those ‘men in suits' would have got away with just dismissing you as ‘another hysterical woman' if it hadn't been for all those years of research you then put in.
Salk: Always the hardest part - finding the proof! You have to be so sure - and this can take so many tests and so much time!
Play 5 Heroes from Different Walks of Life: Adults from the World of Entertainment - Children - and a Folk Legend
Jackie Robinson (Baseball)
Steven Spielberg (Movies)
Elvis Presley (Music)
Mattie Stepanek (Child poet)
Samantha Smith (Child peacemaker)
John Chapman (Folk legend)
Elvis: You, a mere child! Having the courage to question a Super Power over whether they wanted war!
Samantha: I just wanted to know! Seemed like a reasonable question to me!
Spielberg: And obviously to Mr. Andropov of the Soviet Union too! Not only did he reply to your letter, but invited you over to his country!
Elvis: ‘America's Youngest Ambassador'!
Samantha: That visit was truly awesome! But all I was doing was asking the questions everyone else wanted the answers too! Sometimes adults just make things unnecessarily complicated!
Mattie: I've noticed that, too! Us children sometimes have a much clearer picture of what's going on. And what's important in life and what isn't.
Chapman: You certainly had the ability to put it all so simply in your poems. Simplicity! Now that's what adults so often miss! If only they could see what was right there in front of them - staring them in the face!
Mattie: Precisely! You don't always need big words and complex theories!
Elvis: And neither does money and fame necessarily bring you the happiness it's meant to!
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