Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rochester and Seneca Falls

On Tuesday, September 24, we continued to travel west to east across the state of New York.

Even though we had a loud, fun, and energetic day at Niagara Falls only the day before, this day proved to be somber for us.

We stopped in Rochester, New York, for one reason only: to visit the gravesite of Steve's father for our first time. Even though he passed away only a year ago, we found the gravesite to be well maintained with beautiful planted flowers and a veteran's headstone in place. Steve and each of the boys individually placed some cut flowers on the gravesite, then I took the boys to the car so Steve could have a few moments alone. Our 7yo had an uncharacteristic meltdown once in the car, something about never being allowed to sit in the back seat. (Huh???) After the meltdown, it dawned on me that this outburst probably had nothing to do with seating arrangements and everything to do with confused emotions, poor boy. It was an emotionally charged hour, after all.

Steve and the younger boys continued on to our next campsite while I stopped with the older boys to the Women's Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, New York. Yes, I am mean enough to force my four teen boys into learning about women's struggle for equal rights in this country. (*evil laugh*)

Actually, it was a very nice museum. We spent about an hour in the visitor center learning about the First Women's Rights Convention, held in Seneca Falls in 1848. Five women organized the convention: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jane Hunt, Mary Ann M'Clintock, Lucretia Mott, and Martha Wright. The notable freed slave Frederick Douglass was in attendance, and he published and disseminated copies of the drafted "Declaration of Sentiments".

At first, of course, people thought these ideas were crazy. But as a small flame can burn until it is a huge roaring fire, these ideas spread and took hold. Suffragists took up the rallying cry, and finally in 1920 women earned voting rights. Of course, not everything is equal even in this day and age, but it is a far cry from how it used to be a mere 150 years ago.

After the visitor center, we briefly popped over to the restored Wesleyan Chapel where the convention was actually held, then explored the reflection wall in Declaration Park. It was a short visit, but one of historical significance to half of the country's population, myself included.

Overall, it was a somber day. We visited a beloved father/grandfather/father-in-law's gravesite, then we reflected on the subjugation of women through the ages. Sometimes one needs to consider these things.