Kingwood man leads charge for American Revolution education

If John Schmonsees were successful, he could wear his American Revolutionary Continental Army captain’s uniform every day, or more like anywhere his wife Melissa would let him. Kingwood’s transplant who was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina and eventually moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, grew up in a town rich in Revolutionary history with icons such as Nathaniel Greene to study. He is always ready to share his love for the history that has produced, in his opinion, the greatest nation in the world.

‘Greensboro was named after an American Revolutionary War general, Nathaniel Greene. He is well known for leading the United States Army in the southern states at the end of the war, and c ‘is really the one who has diminished the British forces enough to enable us to defeat them at Yorktown,” he said. The key victory, he said, closed the escape route and the resupply of the British army from the sea.

“And on the land side, Washington and his French counterpart Rochambeau came in and together they besieged and destroyed the British army and they surrendered,” he said, recalling the story.

His love for founding the country is such that he started his own 501(c)3 charity and organized a group called Revolutionary Education, Inc.

American history was anchored in him from an early age.

“I was surrounded by everything related to the Battle of Guilford courthouse, which is a big national park there. And a lot of people are getting involved in the events around the battle itself, and the people involved, all the streets are named after the people involved. I volunteered with them in high school,” he said. He also became a Revolutionary War re-enactor.

His emotional and physical investment in the founding years and his own family history in the military made him want to go to West Point at the American Military Academy in New York, another stronghold and history of the Revolutionary War.

“I’ve had a love for the American Revolution since those teenage years and couldn’t escape it,” he said.

After graduating from West Point, he spent five years in the military as an armored officer commanding tank units in Korea and then back here in the United States at Fort Hood in Killeen, Utah. Texas, where he met his wife.

Early in his civilian life, he worked for a company that sent him across the United States, mostly to the East where he learned even more about the American Revolution.

He, his wife and their firstborn moved to Kingwood where he became involved in raising his child.

“I noticed my child’s fifth grade elementary school had some sort of American Revolution curriculum,” he said. His interest was piqued especially when children dressed up in American Revolutionary costumes and did crafts in a program called “Patriots Day”.

He started volunteering at the school to help with the program, but Schmonsees took it to another level by purchasing period tents, costumes, and period music to help with the programs. He began to be invited by other schools to give a presentation.

Later, he was approached by a man from Houston Baptist University, Dr. Chris Hammons, who is the director of the Morris Family Center for Law and Liberty, to tell him what they were working on, specifically focused on education. students on the foundation of the country.

Originally, Hammons asked him to do summer camp, something he felt he couldn’t do with his job demands. Then Hammons encouraged him to start a Revolution-focused nonprofit, which he did in February 2020. It wasn’t the best time since the advent of the COVID pandemic, but Schmonsees doesn’t. would not be refused. He organized a board of directors with area educators, business leaders, and he also invited some of his West Point connections to join him, including many from across the country.

They clarified their mission and their objective.

“Our reason for existing is to educate students and families about the founding principles of the United States. We do it through the lens of the American Revolution, through our mission, our mission is really to kind of start the same way by educating and inspiring students, families and the public,” he said. declared.

Schmonsees said they use entertainment to enhance their public education and implement interactive ways to help engage.

He said they believe this type of education is being swept up in typical classrooms and has been ignored by most teachers because the information is not found in state tests for students.

“I found a national survey in 2017 that showed there was a low priority on teaching the humanities or teaching US history. I should revise my stats, but that’s was something like 90% or something,” he said.

Nor is it a topic discussed around the dinner table, on Main Street or around the boardroom, he said.

“All you hear is negativity and how to hate America. We want to teach students that it’s okay to love our country,” he said.

One of his acolytes said: “We are staunchly patriotic and we really have a great story to tell.”

He does not make it a political hot potato.

“No matter which side you are on, most agree that there has been a decline in understanding of the founding principles. It touched us yesterday, today and forever,” he said.

Schmonsees pointed out that it’s only been a few generations and that there are family members of Civil War veterans still alive today.

“It’s only a few generations away,” he said.

“It’s amazing that other countries are using our constitution to change theirs because they see the value in it.”

To help tell the story, Schmonsees recruited a cast of actors, mostly high school students, who helped take unique stories from the early days of the foundation and create skits and develop their own scripts around those. stories. The actors become the living story in front of the children and others who see the programs.

“It really immerses them in the American Revolution,” he said.

Schmonsees includes rare never-told stories, including the man who printed the Declaration of Independence when it was adopted.

“Jefferson and Franklin went to a printer’s just down the road from the Continental Congress. His name was John Dunlap and he was 28 at the time. They engaged with him to print as many as he could in one night. Once they adopted 4th of July, they went to his store and asked him to print hundreds of copies right away,” he said. About 20 copies of the “broadside” still exist. Some copies were smeared with not quite dry ink that they were in such a rush to get them out as soon as possible.

Schmonsees also tells the stories of African Americans and Hispanics who fought in the Revolutionary War, a fact rarely taught in schools.

He pointed out that Galveston was named after Spanish General and Governor Bernado de Galvez, who was in charge of the Spanish military during the American Revolution.

Part of the organization’s endgame is to build a theme park based on groundbreaking education. He explained that they were already developing a business plan and working with consultants to fully develop the idea.

They have already held a few fundraisers and now charge a flat fee to host the group at schools rather than charging an entrance fee.

“That really only covers most of our expenses,” he said.

CASTING CALL

To continue its influence, the organization is looking for volunteers to help spread the word, whether through acting, storytelling or more.

“We currently have 29 active cast and crew and they are amazing. We hope to expand to Jersey Village and New Caney ISDs in the near future,” he said.

They are looking for community members who would be interested in volunteering to work on sets, build and artists to paint sets, writers to develop scripts, seamstresses to work on costumes, etc.

The band’s next performance will be at Bear Branch Elementary in Kingwood on April 1, followed by Jesse Jones Park in May for a performance open to the public.

The board also approved raising funds to support a fife and drum corps. Schmonsees said they would need flute or piccolo players and drummers to join the band.

“We would like to have this group in a nice authentic uniform that could not only perform at our events, but also for parades and community events to represent revolutionary education,” he said.

To learn more about the organization or to volunteer, visit www.reved1776.org.

[email protected]

Comments are closed.