If you were to step off of your porch this morning, and find a loose board on the bottom step that sent you tumbling head first on to the walk, would you be more careful the next time you step down from that porch?
You surely would. In fact, you'd probably grab a hammer at the first opportunity and nail that bad boy down. That's called "history"...you've experienced something, learned from it, and you strive not to repeat it. Doing so can be painful.
Well, I was watching another one of those late night talk shows and they were again doing their "man on the street" bits. You surely know it...it's where they ask questions like "who's the Vice President?", "name the three branches of government"...and inevitably the majority of those street dead heads can't provide the correct answer.
And why not? They aren't being taught civics or history, at least not many teachers are anymore. Nor math or science or geology, or biology for that matter. I frankly don't know when the school system collapsed. I suspect it happened in the 80's though because I see a hell of a lot of 40 and 50 somethings walking around in total ignorance.
Back to history. Historian David McCullough says it's a crime that schools are no longer teaching history. I agree. Knowing history gives us a sense of where we came from, it instills some degree of pride in our country's many achievements. But most importantly, it warns us of that loose board on the bottom step. To ignore history is certainly to repeat our mistakes and places our nation in grave peril.
Before Newsweek went left wing radical, and then belly up, they ran a poll on just what Americans knew about their own country. The results were chilling.
30% of Americans could not tell you what occurred on 9/11. 60% couldn't identify the Vice President of the United States. Another 60% could not tell you how our Constitution came to be and nearly that many could not tell you what the Bill of Rights was all about. Several identified one of the first ten amendments as guaranteeing free health care. 73% couldn't tell you why we fought the cold war and six percent could not identify the date we celebrate Independence Day. Only 17% could identify Iraq and Afghanistan on a map....and those that could were probably our troops who've been there. Sadly, only 38% of Americans could pass the basic citizenship test...you know the questions: "Who was the first President?" "How many branches of government?", etc.
By contrast, 75% of Europeans know their country's history. A similar poll in Britain indicates the British know more about American history than Americans.
Watch your step folks...that last one is a doozy.