Monday, October 25, 2010
Illustrations by Bryan Klotz
Today is October 25th and it marks the anniversary of the deaths of United States Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila, daughter Marcia, three campaign workers, Tom, Will and Mary, and two pilots whose plane went down in Northern Minnesota in 2002. The announcement of their deaths played over the radio at 1pm as I was driving to pick up my kids. I remember that I had to pull over to the side of the road due to the tears in my eyes. I did not personally know Paul or Sheila Wellstone but Marcia and I taught high school together at South High in White Bear Lake for a few years. Paul Wellstone was a great senator and a great man and his loss meant that he would no longer be working for a better future for Minnesotans. It was such as sad day.
Lucy's Hero is a children's book that remembers Paul Wellstone as a hero to many Minnesotans. Lucy is a fictional character but the details of Wellstone's senate race, the little green bus that could, and many other remembrances are real to many people. Paul is Lucy's hero because when she writes to him to help her and other farmers in need of emergency aid, he follows through and helps her family keep their farm. Lucy helps Paul campaign and when she learns of his death, heads to Saint Paul to grieve with others at his campaign headquarters. It really is a lovely story.
Paul Wellstone taught Political Science at Carleton College, in Northfield, MN and his daughter Marcia taught high school Spanish. Paul's students dared him to run for political office and that is when he bought a little green bus and drove it all over the state to campaign for the U. S. Senate. It was a grassroots movement that Minnesota hasn't seen since.
I read this book aloud to my junior and senior Government class. Their current assignment is to write a children's book to teach concepts of Government and this book, I hoped, would prove inspiring as well as teach them about Paul Wellstone and his legacy. Happily, one of my student chose the topic of how to become a U.S. Senator as the subject of her book. I am going to continue to read this book to my Government classes and I plan to donate a copy to the school library where my own children attend school. It is a important book that shares a legacy of a man, that all children should know.