“Time after time mankind is driven against the rocks of the horrid reality of a fallen creation. And time after time mankind must learn the hard lessons of history – the lessons that for some dangerous and awful reason we can’t seem to keep in our collective memory.” – Hilaire Belloc
Of any age group, teenagers and young adults are the least likely to know the correct answers to basic United States history questions – a disturbing trend that threatens not only national identity, but also national well-being.
More than a fifth of American teens do not know which country the thirteen colonies declared independence from in 1776 – 14% think it was France, 5% think it was Canada.
82% of interviewed Lumberton residents do not recognize the name “Millard Fillmore.”
89% could not name the first six U.S. Presidents, in order or out of order.
48% identified Abraham Lincoln as a signer of the Declaration of Independence. (Hint: he was elected President 84 years after 1776.)
26% cannot name the sides that fought in the Civil War – some said it involved Canada, others said Mexico, and some mentioned that it was between West and East.
Evangelist Ray Comfort and political activist Mark Dice are just two examples of interviewers who have asked “the man on the street” elementary questions, like “Who was Adolf Hitler?”
In the age of information, when so much of the world’s history is at our fingertips, when the knowledge and experience of the generations before us are accessible to the masses like never before, how come we don’t know the most basic details about how our nation came to be?
Thomas Jefferson said that the “tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
Millions of Americans gave their lives so that we may live free from the yoke of tyrants and oppressors. Is it even in our place as Americans, living in the freest, most privileged, most prosperous nation on earth, to forget them who gave their lives so we may live ours to the fullest — in freedom and comfort?
Around the globe, hundreds of millions have perished under the very tyrants that selfless patriots have opposed. Dare we forget the millions upon millions of victims who have died as a result of human carelessness, tyranny, and depravity, some of it evils our own ancestors died fighting?
Ultimately, the one death that will matter to the end of time is Christ’s. Our nation has most of all forgotten His undying love, His ultimate sacrifice, and the blood He shed so that we may live in spiritual freedom.
The state of affairs is less than ideal when a people refuses to remember the blood of patriots and refuses to acknowledge the reign of tyrants, but how much worse it is when that people refuses to recognize the blood of Christ.
Knowing and understanding history is essential to maintaining the freedom and prosperity of the United States, and more importantly, Christianity’s unhindered presence here.
Learning the past gives us an identity, a sense of where we have been, where we should go, where we should never go, and where we are now. America has forgotten the consequences of accepting what God hates and spurning what he loves – and yes, there are most tangible consequences.
Samuel Johnson said that “the recollection of the past is only useful by way of provision for the future.” And as Richard Weaver said, “Those who have no concern for their ancestors will, by simple application of the same rule, have none for their descendants.”
For reasons that exceed earthly bounds and go past the grave, history is important: never forget the blood of patriots and tyrants.