There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come and it seems the time has come to do more than talk about the importance of history.
In 2013, Florida became the first state to pass a resolution making the 2nd Sunday in August a day to remember the ending of WWII – a day to reflect upon what our country would be like if this day in 1945 had ended differently. Yet this important period in our nation’s history, perhaps second only to the Revolutionary War, is not a priority for our schools.
Teaching history to middle and high school students has never been easier due to the tools found on the Florida History Fair (FHF) website. The FHF competition offers students, grades 6-12, a platform to present their county winning projects with the chance of possibly ‘righting’ a piece of history.
In 1996, an 11 year-old student, Hunter Scott from Pensacola, Florida, was inspired to research the USS Indianapolis after seeing the movie ‘Jaws’ when Samuel Quint gave, what some say is one of the most haunting monologues in cinematic history, describing the shark attacks over a four day period.
Scott, now a US Navy pilot, reviewed over 800 documents and interviewed 150 survivors for his FHF project, including the Japanese commander, Lt. Cdr. Hashimoto, who torpedoed the ship that was on another secretive mission after delivering the atomic bomb. Of 1,196 sailors, some 300 were killed, leaving some 900 men in the water. When a floatplane spotted the exhausted sailors, only 321 remained. Scott presented his finding from his winning FHF entry to the US Congress, which led to the exoneration of Indianapolis’ Captain, Charles McVey, who had been court-martialed and dishonorably discharged for negligence. This Florida History Fair student’s story is chronicled in the book, ‘Left for Dead: A Young Man’s Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis.” One of the remaining 15 survivors, Victor Bucket, lives in Naples.
While Collier County Public Schools have been slow to embrace the FHF, private schools, Seacrest Country Day School and the Village School, are carrying the banner for Collier County. Perhaps one day, as they walk the talk, they too will ‘right’ a piece of history.