It started off as a passing idea, a thought that just pops into your head. But the more I thought about it the more I wondered...what could the average high school student going to school in the Shreveport - Bossier area tell me about the 4th of July?

What have they, as the USA turns 245, learned about America's birthday? Would they be able to tell me about the signing of the Declaration of Independence? Do they know about the day that the United States declared their freedom from Great Britain?

Truthfully, I was not optimistic. Perhaps because of my age and the thoughts that come with the passing of time that no generation after after yours can measure up. Or maybe it was the video we saw almost three years ago. In December of 2018 the Louisiana Tech football team was in Hawaii for a bowl game. A number of players, on a tour of Pearl Harbor, expressed surprise at hearing the story "for the first time." "Amazing," one said, "Why didn't they teach us this in school?"

And a couple of texts from the KEEL's Shreveport Security Systems Message Board didn't exactly bolster my spirits:

"My 9th grader thought (4th of July) was Freedom from China day."

"My (high school student) knew about the Civil War, but didn't know what country we fought it against."

And finally, there was this story from another listener, telling about conversations with his grand niece and American civics:

"She knew there are 50 states, but we were shocked she didn’t know there were originally 13 states.  She knew George Washington was our first president, but didn’t know he had been the revolutionary general that led the fight for independence.  She knew there had been a Civil War, but thought it was mostly slaves fighting white men for their freedom.  She knew Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy had been assassinated, but didn’t know the names of the men who shot them.  She thought Abraham Lincoln was shot in a movie theater while watching a film.  She knew Franklin Roosevelt was president, but had never heard of Theodore Roosevelt."

And he wrapped up with:

"The first time she voted was in the election this past November, and she proudly expressed her support for Biden and Harris.  Her main reason was because Biden has promised to pay her college tuition; but she doesn’t understand how taxpayers would be the ones paying the bill."

So, given the (admittedly) limited evidence, let's make a plan. This 4th of July take a couple of minutes and tell your kids a quick story about America. About it's founding, about ideals, about the men and women who died to keep us free. Sure, it seems like massive task, but remember the old saying, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." And what better time to start than now?

 

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