Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

During the week surrounding this Fourth of July I've been pleased to join with a number of other authors who've written about the American Revolution in submitting posts to the blog of Suzanne Adair, a popular author of historical fiction set in the Revolutionary period. My post and those of my colleagues may be found at Readers have responded to our posts with comments, some of which reflect astonishment that the South's contribution to the winning of our liberty is not more widely recognized--a fact which was the subject of my particular post. But a couple have, regrettably, reflected an unfortunate blind spot that I fear afflicts many Americans in these days of imperfect teaching of American history. They misread "Revolutionary War" as "Civil War." Now certainly there are many Southerners who still vow that what is generally called our Civil War was in fact the Second War of Independence for the South. But the misreading I refer to is of another stripe--it is simply the result of the sorry state of American education. I lament that our schools are turning out graduates who can't tell the difference between the war to win our national independence from Great Britain and our war between the states over the issues of slavery and disunion, even when the distinction is made for them, as it was in my post. I do not necessarily blame those on whom the distinction is lost; I blame the teachers and the education system that have failed to make the distinction clear. When will we in America ever come to understand the value of a quality education, one that teaches our children to respect and understand history? Those of you who know my work or have heard me speak know how strong my feelings on this topic are. How can a nation go forward in perfecting its values if it has no knowledge of how those values came to be or what they mean? Nowadays our political discourse is riddled with inaccurate references to supposed events of our national past that are said to have shaped us. Even when these inaccuracies are exposed, they are glibly explained away and we as citizens shrug our shoulders and excuse them. Isn't it time we acquainted ourselves with the real history of the United States? Isn't it time we retooled our education system so it teaches us the truth about how our values were formed and refined and perfected over time?

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