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Picture Book
The History Lesson

Grandpa Fraser walked up the grass-covered hill with his dog, Fletcher, and his two grandchildren, Graham and Addison. "How much more do we have to climb, Grandpa?" whined Addison.

"Are we nearly there yet?" Graham complained.

Grandpa stopped and looked at the two children, "Iím nearly ten times your age and do you hear me complaining about the walk. You wanted to see the battlefield from the top of the hill, didnít you?" The children went silent after that gentle scolding.

At long last they reached the crest of the hill. Fletcher ran about chasing butterflies and bumblebees. They sat down on the grass and looked at the valley below. It spread out like a blanket of green, dotted with small buildings and monuments. A river flowed down the center of it, meandering around like a large snake. The sunshine made it sparkle and glimmer like glass. "Is this where it really happened, Grandpa?" Graham asked.

"Yes, lad, this is the place. This is where King Robert the Bruce and his valiant army and followers defeated the English. Letís just sit a while and think about it, then weíll go down to the monument and Iíll tell you all about it," Grandpa explained.

They sat for a while. Graham and Addison noticed the blue and white flag waving below. "Grandpa, is that blue and white flag, Scotlandís flag?" Addison asked.

"Why does it have a blue and white Ďxí on it?" Graham chimed in.

"Iíll tell you what, letís head back down to the battlefield. Weíll find a nice place to sit and Iíll tell you all about it," Grandpa said. Sensing time to move on, Fletcher ran about excitedly, waiting for the children to make a move.

Agreeing, Graham and Addison ran down the hill as fast as they could, followed by the small white dog. Grandpa walked slowly, wishing for a few moments that he was younger and could join them. At the bottom they sat down. Grandpa found a rock to sit on. "Tell us now, Grandpa. Tell us about the flag," Addison begged.

"And the battle," added Graham.

"Gather round. You too, Fletcher," he called to the dog, who ran and sat down by Graham. "The battle took place hundreds of years ago, on the 23rd and 24th of June, 1314."

"That is a long time ago, Grandpa. Were you alive then?" Graham innocently asked.

Grandpa chuckled, "No, but sometimes I feel like I was. Letís go on. Their king, Robert the Bruce, led the people in Scotland. Bruce was his last name. He was a great king and loved Scotland very much. He fought many battles trying to win Scotlandís independence."

"What does that mean?" Addison asked. "Whatís independence?"

"It means that the people who lived in England wanted to rule the people of Scotland, and they didnít want them to, so they fought to be free. The king of England at that time was King Edward II. He didnít want Scotland to be free. He wanted to own it and give the lands to his noblemen and knights," Grandpa continued.

"Thatís selfish. Why wasnít King Edward happy with all the land in England? Itís much larger than Scotland," Addison said, proud that she knew that information.

"Kings in those days were greedy. They wanted everything. King Robert gathered all the men in Scotland who wanted to fight with him and help Scotland be free. The English came up into Scotland with a huge army. Some of the men were great horsemen, others were good at archery."

"I can shoot a bow and arrow too, Grandpa. I wish that I had been there to help King Robert and all the men," Graham said, sincere in his heart.

"The Scottish army wasnít as large, but they were fighting for a good reason, for their freedom. That alone can make a man mighty. Their horses were covered in blankets, for protection, the men wore helmets and carried shields and swords or spears. The two armies fought. Many were killed or wounded. It was a sad sight that day. Bodies were stacked up high on top of each other. It was horrible."

"Who won, Grandpa? Who won?" Graham asked.

"Though they had a lot of men die, the Scots won. They chased the English off their land. At last Scotland was a free country. King Robert the Bruce was very proud of the men who helped him. They were heroes. No matter what though, many died. He lost a lot of good friends in that battle."

"Thatís sad," Addison said. She reached over and petted Fletcher on his back. He wagged his tail at her. The flag is a symbol of Scotland and is called the Flag of St. Andrews. St. Andrew was the patron saint of Scotland. We still celebrate Saint Andrews Day each year, on the 30th of November. Surely youíve talked about that in school?" he asked his grandchildren.

"I have," muttered Addison.

"Me too," replied Graham.

"The flag represents the cross of St. Andrew and it is well known symbol of Scotland. We have another flag, the Rampart Lion. Itís red on yellow with a red lion in the center. Very nice looking flag," Grandpa explained. "Well, shall we go and look at the monuments and have a wee walk around. Then it will be time to get you home. Your mum will wonder where Iíve taken you. Come on then, Fletcher. Letís go, boy."

They spent the next hour on the battlefield. They talked about the statues, saw the flag and tried to imagine the battle going on that day. Graham and Addison felt very sad inside that so many men had died; yet they were very proud to be Scottish.

When they got home they told their mum and dad all about the Battle of Bannockburn and the Flag of St. Andrews. Grandpa Fraser sat in front of the fire, tired, yet happy that he had the chance to teach his wee grandchildren a little bit about Scottish history.

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