11.25.2013 0

The unwinding of America

Gettysburg_AddressBy Rick Manning

This past week our nation celebrated the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address.  Once a staple in schools, where kids learned the words by heart and delivered them before the whole class, modern education has apparently deemed the soaring words of Lincoln unworthy of being taught.

A video by Media Research Center on the George Mason University campus located just outside of Washington, D.C. revealed a stunning ignorance amongst students of Lincoln’s seminal speech as they admitted time and again to be unfamiliar with the opening phrase “Four score and seven years ago.”

Harvard University students fared as poorly on video trying to name the capitol city of Canada, which is actually located closer to their campus than Washington, D.C.

In a 2011 Wall Street Journal article, Pulitzer Prize winning historian David McCullough who has spoken on more than 100 college campuses flatly states, “’We’re raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate.”

Not having even a basic knowledge of our nation’s history, the struggles to establish liberty, the unique freedom to practice religion, the sacrifices made to preserve the nation against threats both foreign and domestic leaves upcoming generations with no common thread that ties them together with their countrymen.

If you never learned, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” the concept that individual rights are bestowed by God, the creator, and not by government.

If you are unfamiliar with the inspirational Declaration of Independence, our U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights and how they came about, how will you even know when they are being betrayed with the resulting loss of freedom?

A nation stands on common threads, principles and underlying beliefs that bind the people together.  The Fourth of July is just a fun day off with fireworks if you don’t understand your own history of freedom and independence that it celebrates.

Yet modern education ignores these common threads as boring or outmoded.

When college students have no clue about the contents of the Gettysburg Address on a day when that very speech is being highlighted nationally due to its 150th anniversary, it is reasonable to ask if that common thread is merely frayed or has it been severed?

The disconnection of America’s youth from the very principles that have made America a beacon for the world and the most prosperous nation in the history of mankind bodes ill tidings for the nation’s future.

A generation unaware of their natural rights will not miss them when they are taken under the guise of the common good.

And that same generation will worry more about their “right” to force others to pay for contraception, than whether their government’s expansive intrusion into the economy on every front is destroying their chance at an America dream of which they are unaware.

This Thanksgiving, say a prayer of thanks, let your family know that the thanks is to God who has bestowed so many blessings on our nation.  Do not shy away from sharing the common thread values that have made bound our nation together from generation to generation.  It just might be the first time your children, grandchildren or great grandchildren have ever heard about it.

This seems to be a lot more worthwhile than watching another boring Detroit Lions game on television.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government.

Below is the Gettysburg Address of which those George Mason students were so unfamiliar.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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