Study illustrates need to remember our history

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2001

Quick: From what country did America declare its independence? An easy question, you say?

Well, chances are pretty good it’ll stump a good number of American teenagers.

The question might be as well be: what’s the square root of 2,498, says the foundation which conducted a recent survey to test American teens’ history acumen.

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According to the telephone survey conducted by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, nearly one in five teens could not answer the question correctly.

That’s embarrassing, as are the results (reported Monday by the Associated Press) that say of the 1,020 teens surveyed:

One in 10 did not know George Washington was the first president.

17 percent did not know there were 13 original colonies.

15 percent did not know the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Nearly one in four did not know who fought in the Civil War; 13 percent thought it was the United States and England.

As we prepare to celebrate the first Independence Day of a new millennium, it’s more than a bit disturbing that the history which has shaped our democracy and our heritage is lost on this younger generation.

Perhaps this survey, while not monumental in scope, should herald a clarion call for adults and younger generations alike – a call to remember, to preserve and to share the facts and the history that gave birth to the greatest democracy ever known.