February 19, 2014
This year the 6th Grade History class paid particular attention to chapters dealing with Orthodox lands and peoples. This included sections about Imperial Russia; the highlights of the reigns of Alexander I, Nicholas I, Alexander II the Tsar Liberator, Alexander III the Peacemaker, and the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II. Recently, we touched upon the Russo-Japanese war, which the US president Teddy Roosevelt helped to end. We also studied Orthodox Russia's support of its sister Orthodox peoples of Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece and Romania in their struggles to free themselves from Ottoman rule. We will soon be studying the Great War of 1914-1918 and the Russian tragedy of 1917-1921. The students will learn about how the Orthodox faith helped many survive times of war and revolution and how the Russian diaspora spread the Orthodox Faith around the Globe.
Today our students took at trip to the Society of Russian Cadets and Veterans of World War I. Here they were able to see relics from Imperial Russia and from the White Russian cause. Bronze busts of the Orthodox Tsars, banners of regiments, sabers, uniforms, photos, medals, shells, and a rare copy of the 1894 Coronation Book of Tsar Nicholas II. They even saw a liturgical book dating from the time of Alexander I. We were reminded that the personal Bible of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, which includes his own notes and reflections on the scriptures, is housed at Joy of All Who Sorrow Cathedral. This bible was faithfully preserved by the Cadets and is now on loan for safekeeping at the very Cathedral where the students' school resides.
During the course of our visit, the students were asked, "If something terrible happened here in our own country, the United States, and you and your family had to flee, what would you take with you?" The students replied, "OUR ICONS." I think this is a fitting answer. The White Russians took their most important treasure with them as they evacuated from the Crimea and Vladivostok.... they took their Faith. This is being handed down to a new generation here at St. John's Academy.
Tikhon Thompson, 6th Grade History and Religion Teacher