Rally the Allies!

There was quite a hub-bub about the campaign rally scheduled recently in Oklahoma.  Several current medical and social issues caused this rally to be questioned more than most political rallies in our past.  And of course, the whole event got me thinking about the word ‘rally.’  A political rally is nothing new in this country.  I believe the first political rally was held by George Washington when he was running for his second term!  Prior to his political campaign and the rallies that took place to support that, he often had a need for rallies of a slightly different type.  Accounts of the battles indicate that there were many times during the American Revolution when the soldiers needed to hear words of encouragement from their leader.  They needed to be brought back together and reminded of what was at stake in that war.  They needed a pep talk of sorts.  Other times during the conflict, they needed to be rallied (brought back together) so that they were ready for the next advance.


Washington inspecting the colors after The Battle of Trenton by Edward Percy
Moran [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The idea of pulling a group of people together to encourage them to think in a certain way was what the word ‘rally’ meant then, and it is what the word means now!  You may be familiar with the phrase “Rally ‘Round The Flag.”  That is a line from the Civil War era song, “Battle Cry of Freedom.”  Here is a link to the story of this song.  It was written days before it was played on July 24, 1862 at a huge war rally held by Abraham Lincoln, who was trying to recruit as many as 300,000 volunteers to fight for the Union.  This article includes the words to the song and a version of the song.

Civil War Music:  The Battle Cry of Freedom

Civil War Posters

Of course there are rallies that are not political in their intent.  Most everyone who has attended a secondary school with a sports team has attended a pep rally!  They are especially commonplace in the U.S.  I’m not sure about other countries.  The goal of a pep rally is to stir up some school spirit!  There is music by the school’s pep band, there is chanting by the school’s cheerleaders, and there is lots of encouragement offered to the members of the particular sporting team being featured.

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CC BY-SA 3.0  Pepassemblyatschool.jpg by Jesrapo

What else is there to know about this word?

At Etymonline we see that this word was used as a verb (1600) before it was used as a noun (1650).  The verb meant “bring together.”  Before that it was from French rallier, and before that from Old French ralier “assemble, unite again.”  As you can see the original sense and meaning of this word persists today!  Looking closer at the etymology of this word, we see <re-> “again” and alier “unite.”  At this point in the Etymonline entry we are directed to the related word ‘ally.’  That word is first attested in the late 13c.  Notice that it is older by 300 years!  At that time it meant “to join in marriage.”  Further back it was from Old French alier “combine, unite.”  Notice the spelling difference between Old French ralier and Old French alier!  The only difference is the <r> which represents the <re-> prefix “again.”

Before I go further, I just want to mention how much I love the fact that ‘rally’ and ‘ally’ have a common ancestor!  Think about the word ‘ally’ for a minute.  We think of our allies as those who join us and work with us for the mutual benefit of both.  According to Etymonline, ‘ally’ has had a sense of “form an alliance, join, associate” since the late 14th century.  We saw certain nations become allies in both World War I against the Central Powers and then against Germany, Japan, and Italy in World War II.  It is not a stretch to think that once you form an alliance with someone or some group, the two people or groups are now allies.  And who better to rally with than your allies!

The Oxford English Dictionary lists several variations of this first sense of this word.  The first is “a rapid reassembling of forces for renewed effort or fighting.”  That is certainly the same sense we see in accounts of war.  While reading an account of the Battle of Trenton (American Revolution) at the History Channel site, I came across the following use of this word:

“Rall attempted to rally his troops but was never able to establish a defensive perimeter, and was shot from his horse and fatally wounded.”

A second variation is that of a “signal for rallying.”  In order for the soldiers to know they are to rally, there must be some kind of signal.  A commander might tell someone to sound the rally!  It was no doubt a specific bugle or drum signal.

A third variation would be “a meeting of the supporters of a cause to demonstrate the strength of public feeling or to inspire or foster enthusiasm.”  My New Oxford American Dictionary describes this sense as “assemble in a mass meeting.”  I would venture to say that people the world over have seen or participated in such mass meetings in the last year.  Recently there have been (and continue to be) protests/rallies for causes like Black Lives Matter. Earlier this year there were protests or rallies for Climate Change as well.  I imagine you could name several rallies that you’ve seen in the news with other particular focuses.  I remember participating in a rally myself back in 2011!

A fourth variation would be in the context of boxing.  The word would be used to mean “a sustained exchange of blows.”  I went to Google to find ‘rally’ used in this way in a recent headline or story.  I found, “Boxers Rally to Defeat Willamette” from September, 2018.  But on closer examination, this story is about a volleyball team who rallied (to come together to restore spirits and enthusiasm).  As you no doubt noticed, instead of finding this word used with this sense as a noun, I found it with another sense as a verb.  The next headline I found was, “Boxers Rally for Win in Home Opener.”  Again, this had nothing to do with boxing.  It was about baseball which you may have guessed from the phrase ‘home opener.’  The third headline I found was actually about boxing!  “Boxing World Rallies Against Devin Haney for …”  In this story, one boxer had made a blatantly racist remark against another and a large number of boxing enthusiasts rallied (came together to send a solid message).  So I was unlucky in finding an example of this word used in this sense as a noun at all.  I wonder if it is because there is a more commonly used word for this particular sense.  I’m thinking of the word ‘volley.’  I could easily find reference to a boxer receiving “a volley of well-placed blows.”

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1989-0325-010, Michael Gusnick, Torsten Schmitz.jpg

Michael Gusnick, Torsten Schmitz by Thomas Lehmann
Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1989-0325-010 / Lehmann, Thomas / CC-BY-SA 3.0 /
CC BY-SA 3.0 DE (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)

A fifth variation would be “a concerted effort by a team, player, or competitor, especially one made from a losing position to draw even or take the lead.”  This sense applies to the sporting headlines I found in the previous paragraph!  Many times a team or player rallies with the hopes of  coming from behind to win.  At the site The Bleacher Report, I found this list:  The 20 Most Outstanding Sports Team Rally Songs.     One of my favorites off that list is “New York, New York” which is a rally song for the New York Yankees.  Do you know it?  It became popularized by Frank Sinatra.

Now an obviously different sense of ‘rally’ has to do with car racing.  A rally is “a race for motor vehicles, usually over a long distance on public roads or rough terrain and typically divided into several divisions.”  The Sports Car Club of America describes a RoadRally this way: “Because events do not involve speed, teams do not need specialized equipment for their car. Although there are classes for vehicles with RoadRally-specific equipment on them, often teams will do the events with only pens, paper and a wristwatch. On the rare occasion the RoadRally is held at night, a small flashlight might be needed. Entry fees for the events are typically less than $40, and often events will even have classes for RoadRally novices.”


By oisa – https://www.flickr.com/photos/oisa/763487574/, CC BY 2.0,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2684357
Gumball Rally Start London 2007.jpg
London Maximillion Jaguar XJ220 leaving the start in London in 2007

In referring to a rally, but wanting to switch the word to a verb, one could say, “The driver rallied his car in Italy.”

There are just so many interesting words within our reach every single day.  Even when you think you understand a word, there is always something new to discover.  There is always a deeper understanding to gift to yourself!  I also find that with every investigation I conduct on my own, I become more and more familiar with my resources and what the internet can make available to me.  I prefer to use more than one resource simply because each is written by a different person, and in doing their own digging for the information, may have come across different resources themselves.  More information is always clarifying!  When there are discrepancies, it just means I need to look further and think about what information I need to know in order to reconcile the discrepancies I see.  Sometimes the discrepancy is simply my misunderstanding of linguistics and language.  So I ask questions of knowledgeable people and I reread trusted sources.

Don’t forget to conduct your own investigations.  The more often you do it, the better equipped you are to teach others how to go about an investigation.  I have found that the more discoveries I have made for myself, the less I want to “make things easy” for my students.  If I enjoy the moments of discovery this much, why would I rob my students of the same joy?  I guide them, I lead them, I help them understand the signposts along the way, but I let them see it for themselves!  And everyday we rally around words!

 

Civil War Wax Museum – 2014

DSCN4156

Today was the day.  The count down began last week.  Busy.  Busy.  Busy.  Finish writing reports.  Finish maps.  Then there are the little things like the Table of Contents, the dedication page  and the About the Author page.  Measure out the cover.  Cut.  Put the pages inside.  Pound a nail to create holes for sewing.  Sew the pages to the cover.  Cover the cover.  What to use?  Wallpaper? Colored paper?  Measure out, cut and glue to cover.  Fold over edges and glue.  Measure, cut and paste  the end pages.  Decorate the cover.  Number the pages.  Admire.  Feel proud.

Decorate the Little Theater.  Student-made posters created and saved over the last 19 years need to be taped to the walls.  Hang  stars and sparkly strips.  Set up tables.  Cover the tables and book shelves with colored paper.  Hang flags.  Display artifacts.  Display resource books.  Display handmade hardcover books.  Practice the Gettysburg Address.  Get costumes on.  Get in place.  Welcome visitors.  Every 20 minutes or so, stop to recite the Gettysburg Address.

Here are some pictures of our event … our cast of characters.

A Half Score and Eight Years Ago …

I love doing big projects with my students.  There are so many skills that can be incorporated when the project is big and deep and fun!  Yesterday was our Civil War Wax Museum (the first for my students, the eighteenth for me)… it was the culmination of six weeks worth of research, writing, discussing, and experiencing.  Each student had researched a particular person who lived and played a role in the Civil War.  Yesterday they dressed as that person and shared their life with museum goers.

Periodically I interrupted the flow in the museum to introduce myself as Abraham Lincoln and then to ask the students to recite the Gettysburg Address.

At the museum, students each recited their line of the Gettysburg Address from wherever they were in the room.  I videotaped this version before we began so that everyone could be heard clearly.

The students also made hard covered books filled with their research, maps, and poems.  When I say they made the books, I mean that they measured out the cardboard, pounded nails so they could sew the pages together, and then covered the books with wallpaper.

In the afternoon, all of the third, fourth, and fifth graders visited our museum.  In the evening, parents, grandparents, neighbors, and siblings visited.   By 7:00pm my students and I were thirsty, sweaty, and tired.  But we were also exhilarated, proud, and deep down happy!  In the eighteen years I have been teaching about the Civil War and holding Civil War Wax Museums, I have never grown tired of watching my students exceed their own expectations.  That feeling is what fosters “growing up”.

John Goddard Set Goals — So Have We!

With the idea of exploration and adventure still in mind, we thought about John Goddard and the goals he set for himself when he was 15.   We got to thinking … what might we like to do, to accomplish, to see, to experience, to master in the life journey ahead.  Each student made a list of at least 25 goals.  Then we made a video of ourselves sharing those goals.  Below is a shortened version of our video – a sampling of what 5th graders see themselves capable of achieving.  It all begins with a goal … and then step by step we’ll learn what to do to make it happen!

Exploration: Goals and Adventures

The topic of exploration has always fascinated me.  The idea of experiencing the unknown kind of makes my toes tingle in the same way that being in high places does.  Just think about it.  An explorer takes all kinds of risks!  An explorer needs to be resourceful, brave, prepared, and maybe even a little bit crazy.  It must be hard to be prepared when you’re not sure what you’re getting into or what you’ll find.  A successful explorer no doubt needs to be able to think on his or her feet, meaning he or she must be able to solve problems.  A successful explorer won’t be the kind of person who gets stuck on an escalator and then stands there yelling for help!

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his greatest surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t.”
– Henry Ford

We are all explorers of sorts.  We might not all be climbing mountains, flying off into space, or digging up dinosaurs.  Many of us are exploring our own abilities.  I remember that when my son was taking karate classes, I decided to give it a try myself.  I was exploring karate and myself at the same time.  I learned about the self defense aspect and the discipline required to focus on the various forms.  I learned that I became very nervous each time I tested for a new belt.  I learned that I loved the feeling of passing the test and earning the next rank.  I made it all the way to brown belt!  I’m still proud of that accomplishment.  I’ve always tried to find new things to learn and new goals to accomplish.  Last year I ran a 7k race and came in third in my division!  Running wasn’t anything I ever did.  But I became determined to set myself a running goal.  My first goal was to run a 5k.  Once I accomplished that, I raised my goal and ran a 7k.  I can’t even clearly explain how amazing I felt when I crossed the finish line. 

Thinking of my own experience with learning and trying new things, I can only imagine the emotions that an explorer feels.  There must be moments of uncertainty,  fear, and discouragement.  There are so many things that could go wrong!  An explorer must have a drive to keep going and not give up.

“To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping.”
– Chinese Proverbs

And if the feeling of accomplishment that an explorer feels is anything like the feeling of accomplishment each of us feels when we succeed at something that was not easy to complete, then I understand why there is still exploration in the world.  As I see it, the difference between an explorer and someone like myself is the level of risk and the level of commitment.  I explore new skills and new learning, but I don’t take myself to remote areas of the earth for months at a time or put myself in dangerous situations in order to accomplish my goals.

Each student in the class is currently researching an explorer.  What are each of you finding out about what it takes to explore the unknown?  What kind of person was (or is) your explorer?   Do you think that today’s explorers are different from the explorers that left Europe in the 1500’s?  Are the reasons for exploring today different than the reasons for exploring back then?

An Assignment for my Students:

A few days ago I read aloud an article about an explorer named John Goddard.  He is a remarkable man.  When he was 15 years old, he made a list of things he wanted to accomplish in his lifetime.  Click on this link  (John Goddard ) and watch the video there.  The video was made in either 1998 or 1999, but it is worthwhile.  Then click on John Goddard’s list of goals.  As you are glancing through the list, think of a connection between your explorer and John Goddard.  Then make a comment to this post.  Explain your connection and tell a bit about your explorer.  Please keep in mind the comment guidelines and our new goal of a 3-4 sentence minimum.