What do Martha the last passenger pigeon, a fragment from Plymouth Rock and Julia Child’s kitchen have in common? Each of these objects tells an important part of America’s story. These and 98 other objects are part of The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects. Written by Richard Kurin, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, and published by The Penguin Press, the 762-page book chronicles America—from prehistoric times to the present—through national treasures found in the Smithsonian’s vast collections.
This is a tremendous task. Of all our history and heritage, to choose 101 items is a great debate waiting to happen. And I love a good list! Do you lean on entertainment or history? Politics or People? What item would you choose to put in this collection?
Here are some items that made the list. If you want to see all 101, it seems you must buy the book.
The Flag from Fort McHenry
1796 painting of George Washington
A piece of Plymouth Rock
Picture of Geronimo
Abe Lincoln’s Hat
Neil Armstrong’s Spacesuit
Those are fantastic items. I can’t argue with these selections a bit. But, just for fun, here are my top 5.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s microphone from “I Have a Dream” – This iconic speech epitomizes the fight for equality and end of segregation.
A confederate flag – We could have possibly been 2 nations. This flag represents one of our darkest hours, and ironically, our freedom.
Elvis black leather suit – Music and movies are such huge parts of our culture. Elvis captures both.
A map of the Trail of Tears – This is a sadly overlooked portion of our history that must be remembered.
The Declaration of Independence – We are who we are because a bunch of rebels signed this piece of paper.
So, what would you add to this list to symbolize our nation?