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Editor's Query: Tell us about a time when a show-and-tell didn't go exactly as planned

Sunday, January 2, 2011;

My great-grandfather, Richard Baxter Ervin, was a Confederate soldier from South Carolina. In his later years, he wrote a compelling short memoir of his life as a soldier. Being a Yankee from New Jersey myself, I was nevertheless moved by his story and often shared it with my children, who are adopted from Korea. They were impressed by his service and the tales he told of the foot soldier's life and hardships.

My older daughter, Jennifer Walser, was in Junior ROTC in high school, often serving as an officer of the group. For one assignment, she brought in a copy of the memoir as well as his picture and some other small memorabilia to show to the class. She gave a short talk on her great-great-grandfather's life during the Civil War, including the fact that he had been wounded in a battle near Alexandria, Virginia.

When she asked for comments at the end of her speech, she was amused by the first response.

"Wow," said a classmate, "I never realized Koreans fought in the Civil War, and were Rebels!"

So, the show-and-tell session resulted in a follow-up discussion of what it means to be a family -- related by love and history, if not by blood.

Sara Walser, Laurel

New query

Tell us about a time whenyou learned you weren'tas smart as you'd thought.

If you have a 100 percent true story taken from your own experience concerning the above query, send it to queries@washpost.com or The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Include your daytime phone number. Recount your story in 250 words or fewer.

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