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Autumn 2006 | Volume 29, Number 4 | Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

I teach United States History in a rural high school in Kittitas, Washington, and I could not agree more with historian and writer David McCullough when he said in the summer issue of Response that “we are doing an absolutely dreadful job” of teaching our nation’s history to students [“A Sense of History,” Summer 2006]. That is the primary reason that I use McCullough’s works as often as possible in the classroom. He knows how to tell a story.

Hollywood also knows a great storyteller when it hears one. When director Gary Ross wanted the racehorse Seabiscuit’s story told with understanding and realism, he chose McCullough to narrate those parts of the movie that gave historical background. McCullough’s words resonate with knowledge of the times and events that made Seabiscuit’s saga a uniquely American story.

Perhaps this is the reason I listen to McCullough when he speaks about the need to tell America’s story with passion. He has committed a lifetime of energy to internalizing America’s story. But it is not enough to tell the story as a passionate person would. I must become a passionate person. I must tell stories to students who will listen and remember because I myself am steeped in the facts, nuances, and complexities of the stories I tell and retell.

Graduating from SPU’s School of Education was important for me because it gave me the landscape of the task ahead for a history teacher. But more is needed. When I have become the kind of teacher and educator with a passion that changes me, perhaps I will be the kind of storyteller who impassions students as well. Until then, I have David McCullough to direct me toward that goal.

Todd Smith M.A. ’89, M.A. ’03
Kittitas, Washington

I just finished reading the most recent edition of the SPU Response, including Bill Woodward’s interview with author David McCullough [“History as a Source of Pleasure, Strength, and Understanding,” Summer 2006]. I have to say I really enjoyed it and have been inspired to pick up some of his books. As a public school teacher myself, I agree with McCullough’s estimation of the “abysmal” (as he put it) job that many teachers do when they teach history. I don’t recall a whole lot from elementary school, but my recollection of history in high school was predominantly one of memorization of facts, and boredom over the soon-to-be retiring teacher’s delivery.

During my sophomore year at SPU, I enrolled in Dr. Woodward’s class that covered American history up through the Civil War. I was warned about how much work and how difficult the class would be. I must say it was an awesome experience, and I learned more about history than I ever had previously. As I read Dr. Woodward’s interview, I became concerned that McCullough’s conclusions about even university history professors might cause Dr. Woodward to question his effectiveness, and I wanted to assure him that his passion and love for history was definitely communicated and passed on to this SPU alum. So, thank you.

Shannon Litty Atherton ’98
Lakewood, California

I really enjoyed the Summer 2006 Response articles on history, particularly the interview with David McCullough and the essay by Ronald C. White Jr. [“Lincoln and Divine Providence”]. And I agreed with the viewpoints expressed and promoted. Even though I majored in physics, I have had a nearly lifelong interest in history. I much enjoyed the two history courses I took from Professor Clifford Roloff at Seattle Pacific.

My first encounter with McCullough was when I read The Path Between the Seas. My wife, Marie, and I had recently returned from a trip to Panama. On March 1, 1996, we had transited the Panama Canal in a 35-foot boat. That evening, we returned from Cristobal on the Atlantic Ocean to Panama City on the Pacific Ocean in a van over the Transisthmian Highway. Reading McCullough’s book made a wonderful trip even more memorable.

After reading Response, I checked White’s The Eloquent President out of the library and read it. I do think that Lincoln showed a belief in God’s providence in an early speech, his farewell to his fellow citizens at Springfield in February 1861. That is probably my favorite Lincoln speech.

I took U.S. History from Professor Roloff my first quarter at SPC. With collateral reading list in hand, I went to the college library. While there, I saw Carl Sandburg’s multivolume biography of Lincoln. It was 15 years before I had a chance to read it. It is still my favorite Lincoln biography.

Albert C. Braden ’57
Sacramento, California


President Eaton’s Commitment

My wife and I just recently received our copy of the summer issue of Response magazine. Once again, it’s a terrific job that your whole team does. It is surely one of the best magazines of its type that we see.

And what a great photo of President Eaton! If he were a capitalist, it would make a wonderful cover picture for Fortune magazine.

I thoroughly enjoyed the article on leadership [“Leading With Passion: A Ten-Year Anniversary Interview With SPU President Philip W. Eaton,” Summer 2006]. At the heart of President Eaton’s success is that great commitment: “We are going to center everything on Jesus Christ.” What a marvelous clarity and commitment to that statement.

We were both also very pleased at the inclusion of Sharon Eaton in the article and in the celebration of 10 years of very inspired and successful leadership. The emphasis on her hospitality I found especially appealing, because there are so few gifts in life that surpass the gift of hospitality.

Max De Pree
Holland, Michigan

Just a note to let you know how much I enjoy reading Response and learning of the many positive things happening at Seattle Pacific. After reading the Q & A about [President Philip Eaton’s] first 10 years, I better understand why all these good things are happening at your school.

Jim Doti
President, Chapman University
Orange, California

I received the summer issue [of Response] and was very interested to learn of the accomplishments of your faculty, students, and alumni, and was particularly impressed with the article on the works of David McCullough and his perceptions of American history and its relevance for today’s generations. I also enjoyed reading [President Eaton’s] reflections on [his] tenure as president of Seattle Pacific University.

Congratulations on an excellent issue.

Arthur F. Kirk Jr.
President, Saint Leo University
Saint Leo, Florida


Casey Minus Hollywood

Thank you for the piece in your Summer 2006 issue about Camp Casey [“War & Peace"]. I had no idea the property had been in SPU ownership since the Army abandoned it back in the 1950s. Judging from the content of the article along with the pictures, the property appears in stunning condition and is being used with imagination and to the great benefit of many.

My father was a teenage draftee in WWI, part of a Washington Army National Guard Coastal Artillery unit in Tacoma. He received extensive training at the three posts (Casey-Flagler-Worden) in 1916 prior to his unit being sent to France. They arrived about eight months before the armistice in November of 1918, and since WWI was almost entirely trench warfare across central France, instead of employing coastal artillery weapons and tactics they were assigned conventional field artillery pieces and targets.

I recall him telling about the massive gun emplacements the Army built for the protection of an enemy invasion by sea into Puget Sound. The hardware at Casey-Flagler-Worden was probably among the largest guns the American military ever employed. Thank God they never had to fire a shot for the purpose they were intended.

Hollywood producers of the film An Officer and a Gentleman some years ago now extensively used on-location backgrounds in Port Townsend and on post at Fort Worden. Key buildings got spruced up at Worden for that purpose. How wonderful that SPU has done such a great job making Casey look so grand albeit without the aid of Hollywood.

Also, congratulations on Response magazine. It is handsome in layout with brief but very informative and interesting articles. The alumni magazines I receive from my alma mater are pale by comparison.

Paul Sahlin
Burlingame, California


Breaking Records

It has been great holding the school record for the decathlon these past 36 years, but I knew it would be broken sooner or later. As the years rolled by, I began to think maybe one of my sons might take a run at it. This actually happened a few years back when my son Kyle Gough ’99 nearly broke the record and was All-American three years in a row in the event. During his senior year, he was primed to peak for the record at the nationals, but an injury two weeks before the meet prevented him from doing his best.

Then Chris Randolph followed his sister to SPU and began training under Jack Hoyt specifically for excellence in the 10-event decathlon. As the Response article [“One for the Record Books,” Summer 2006] clearly relates, Chris not only mastered the 10 disciplines, but he excelled in them and broke two longstanding SPU records!

I couldn’t be more pleased to have the record passed on to one such as Chris. He is just the kind of athlete SPU can be proud of. He came here with the idea of getting an education and seeing how far his athletic interest would take him. He put in the hard work and long hours of training not only to learn, but also to become proficient in the 10 decathlon events, resulting in two national championships and breaking two 30-year-old records. That is incredible!

The kind of person Chris is speaks volumes about the atmosphere and coaching expertise available at SPU. I guess we both came here mainly because of the excellent coaching available and the chance to become all we could be without getting lost in a big-school environment. After meeting Chris early in his senior year, I was so impressed with his humility and evident Christ-like personality — a man who anyone could be at ease talking to, learning from, or learning with. He has his priorities straight and is truly interested in others. We are blessed to have him assisting Coach Karl Lerum in training others in the disciplines of track and field, but more importantly in the disciplines of the Christian life, which he so clearly demonstrates as he lives his own life out here on our campus. I thank the Lord for the opportunity to know him and to pass the baton to a wonderful Christian gentleman.

Steve Gough ’70
Renton, Washington


Response Fans

I ’ve written before to tell you how much I appreciate an issue of Response, and here I go again! The collection of articles for your Summer 2006 issue was timely and thoughtful. I read every one. The format is wonderful — print, photography, layout, departmental updates. As we [former staff members] are now retired and living away from the Seattle area (on the Oregon coast), I must admit I enjoy momentarily reuniting with a community and educational ministry I once was part of and frequently miss. Thank you for what you have done and continue to do!

Doug and Jeanne Rich
Warrenton, Oregon

Thank you for the most recent issue of Response. It is beautiful — one of the nicest I’ve ever seen. Thank you for your great work on that and for creating such a great publication.

Sherrill Kraakmo ’89
Carnation, Washington


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