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Getting the Drop on History

By July 1, 2011Blog, Education
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The nation is aflame with the results of the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).   Google “don’t know much about history” and you’ll get all the articles:  they’re all using the same line from the famous song.

In short, the news is bad.  Again.  The kids aren’t learning history.  Famed historian David McCullough tells the Wall Street Journal (6/18/11) that our textbooks are “so politically correct as to be comic.”

True, we should worry about the coming generation.  But, the current one isn’t doing so great either.

Last Fourth of July, the New York Times dropped the word “life” from its rendition of the Declaration of Independence.  As they said:  “We know the words well, but they bear repeating. …”  You betcha!

That fall, the President of the United States dropped the “Creator” from his rendition of the Declaration of Independence.  Oops.

Just recently, NBC did a patriotic video montage as part of its coverage of the U.S. Open Golf Championship … in which they dropped the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.  Twice.  (But, they’re really sorry).

Hmmm … Why do God and “life” keep getting dropped?

This Fourth of July, read the actual Declaration of Independence, especially to your kids.  Here’s a copy from our friends at WallBuilders,

And whatever you do, don’t rely on the kids’ politically correct comic-textbooks.  Or The New York Times.  Or NBC.  Or even the President of the United States.

Be sure you know what it really says and remember the words … because a lot folks keep leaving out the important stuff.


The Virginia Gazette, July 26, 1776:

On Wednesday last, the Declaration of Independence was read at the head of each brigade of the Continental Army posted at and near New York, and everywhere received with loud huzzahs and the utmost demonstrations of joy.  The same evening, the equestrian statute of George III, which Tory pride and folly raised in the year 1770, was, by the Sons of Freedom, laid prostrate in the dirt, the just desert of an ungrateful tyrant!  The lead wherewith this monument was made is to be run into bullets, to assimilate with the brain of our infatuated adversaries…”

The Christian Century, “Editorial:  Don’t Know Much about History,” June 27, 2011,

People who don’t know their country’s history make for poor citizens. People who don’t have a narrative sense of the American past are especially susceptible to politicians and other ideologues who try to weave their own versions of the past in an effort to manipulate people’s emotions. Knowing something about the past entails coming to grips with complexities and learning that real people wrestled with life-and-death questions and made tragic or wise choices. Historical knowledge keeps us humble about our own choices. We need the wisdom we can get only from knowing the stories of our past.

Interesting reading:

David McCullough in Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College,