Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

If only I’d known the prize was chocolate… July 7, 2012

The words for “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” are projected onto a screen at the front of Bethel Ridge Lutheran Brethren Church.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME you listened to a reading of the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence?

Or the last time you sang “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” or “God Bless America?”

When did you last place your hand across your heart and recite The Pledge of Allegiance?

Have you ever taken a patriotic quiz and realized how much you’ve forgotten about American history or perhaps never have known?

All four of the above, plus quotes from our nation’s founding fathers and leaders, were included in a Patriotic Program I attended on the Fourth of July at Bethel Ridge Lutheran Brethren Church in Faribault.

An audience overview at the July Fourth Patriotic Program.

Although the number in attendance was small—around 30—I’m quite certain those of us attending left inspired, uplifted and certainly more knowledgeable.

Let’s test your smarts. What’s the longest possible time a person could now serve as President of the United States? What was our nation’s first Constitution called? Who was our country’s first Vice President?

Had you correctly answered those three questions (10, The Articles of Confederation and John Adams) and six more at Bethel’s Patriotic Program, you would have won a Hershey’s milk chocolate candy bar. The winning team missed only one of 10 questions. I cried foul. My team, which included a history major, missed three. I contended to a program leader that, had I known chocolate was on the line, we all would have tried harder.

Performers in a skit recite The Pledge of Allegiance along with audience members. The skit was based on a supposedly true story of an American soldier who was captured by the North Vietnamese. As the story goes, he stitched an American flag inside a shirt using a bamboo needle and fabric from clothing and other items.

Before and after the competition we settled into our pews, listening to quotes by the likes of George Washington, James Madison, Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and more.

“It is impossible,” said President George Washington, “to (rightly) govern the world without God and the bible.”

Said President Theodore Roosevelt: “A thorough knowledge of the bible is worth more than a college education.”

And apparently a thorough knowledge of American history is worth a chocolate candy bar.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


15 Responses to “If only I’d known the prize was chocolate…”

  1. ljhlaura Says:

    Sounds like a great program! Now please excuse me while I go study my American history … 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      LOL. I felt the same way after taking that quiz. I didn’t mention that after the program we were served ice cream cones before watching fireworks, some inside the church, others outside or (ahem) in their vehicles.

  2. Allan Landman Says:

    What a wonderful idea, having a patriotic Program! I think this is great and hope it catches on all over the Great Land of the United States. It not only shows there are people who care about our beginning of the U.S.A., but also proves there are many people who want to endorse it. Was this open for all to attend, or was it only for members of the Church? We would love to attend and participate in such a worthwhile program. I must iterate what I have said before about Southern Minnesota, the residents always come up with inovative ideas. Who would think of a program involving not only educational knowledge, about our great land, but building the fellowship of TRUE MINNESOTANS!! And a Church is the most logical place to hold these patriotic gatherings, as this Country was built as “One Nation, under God”.

    As an after thought, all this fun and learning, and chocolate too!!!! The doors and windows flew open this morning filling our home with fresh cool air. A/C is wonderful, but nothing like the fresh air. Thanks so much Audrey for your hard work on this blog. Every morning I start the day with a cup of coffee, and reading your blog.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Ah, Allan, you just made my day even better with those last two sentences. Thank you.

      Now to answer your question: Yes, the Patriotic Program was open to anyone (I am not a member of Bethel) and was advertised in the local daily newspaper. I expected a crowd, but as you can see from the photos, numbers were sparse. However, that does not mean this was not successful or worth doing. It was and it is. Thank you, organizers of this patriotic celebration.

  3. treadlemusic Says:

    I love small towns! Especially ones that haven’t gotten so caught up in celebrations/events that are definitely not “family friendly”! I will have to admit, even though I thought I had a good working knowledge of American history/government, even the chocolate ‘carrot’ would not have helped me;-( Once again, thanks so much for your lovely posts. My little firefly friend didn’t come in with this week’s shipment. Will find out on Monday its status. Was listed as “in stock” so am sure it will come soon;-) Wonder if the True Value warehouse is scratching their collective head curious as to why the ‘run’ on these! Hehe!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Here’s the funny thing about that little American history quiz. Since we had a history major in our group, we went with him on some of the answers, even though a few of us thought he was wrong. He was. We weren’t.

      Hmmmm, do you think I should email someone at True Value and see if the company will cut me a commission check? I also recently “sold” an elephant slide for $750 via a blog post I published in 2010. That story will be forthcoming on how I connected a New Yorker with a woman in Faribault who was trying to sell the children’s slide at her garage sale two years ago. The slide is now on its way to a farm in New York.

  4. hotlyspiced Says:

    Well, being from down under, I would have failed that test and missed out on the Hersey bar too. What a great service to remind people of all the great things America was founded on. Someone needs to remind your current president! xx

  5. Jacob Says:

    I must apologize to Audrey, for I’m the history major that made her miss out on the delicious Hershey bar. If I had known about the chocolate bar I would have tried much harder! I was greatly humbled by God after missing some of the questions, and have since sought to remind myself of America’s beginning. I thank you for coming to the program, and Lord willing next year will be more successful.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Jacob, no apology needed. Randy and I enjoyed the patriotic program and consider it a success. Thank you to all who organized it. Don’t feel bad about missing questions; no one would expect you to remember every detail of our country’s history. I think the quiz was a humbling experience for all of us, realizing how little we know.

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