John Adams said: "Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people."
Today that’s becoming an increasing problem. If we as a nation don't know why this country was founded, what the great creed of the Declaration of Independence is, or what the Constitution - the nation’s blueprint - proclaims, we lose the ties that unite us: the principles and ideals won by the American Revolution and forged by our founding documents--what Abraham Lincoln famously called “the mystic chords of memory.”
The American Revolution Center recently commissioned a national survey of adult Americans to assess their knowledge of the American Revolution. The good news: overwhelmingly (90 percent) said knowledge of the American Revolution is important. When asked to grade their own knowledge, 89 percent gave themselves a passing grade.
But when tested, 83 percent failed, with an average score of 44 percent. Surprisingly, more than a third thought the right to assemble, march, protest, or petition the government is "important but not essential" or "not that important at all." More than half thought the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the War of 1812 came before the Revolution. Yet, 81 percent easily identified Michael Jackson as the singer of "Beat It" and "Billie Jean.”
Our kids aren’t doing much better as evidenced by the recent report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. A history test was given to 31,000 students nationwide in public and private schools. Three quarters of all students tested performed below the proficient level. Scores sink lower as students’ age. While 20% of fourth graders score at or above the proficient level, only 12% of high school seniors meet that mark. Less than half the graduating seniors demonstrated a basic knowledge of American history.
Given these scores, how can rising generations of Americans keep the spirit of the American Revolution alive? How can our young people defend their liberties if they can’t define them?
The American Revolution Center is building The Museum of the American Revolution—the first national museum dedicated to telling the entire story of our founding. The Museum will be located in historic Philadelphia, just steps from Independence Hall.
The Museum will connect visitors to the extraordinary stories and people of the founding generation through the Center’s distinguished collection of objects, firearms, works of art, manuscripts and rare books from the Revolutionary era. Visitors will see these authentic “witnesses” to our nation’s birth, including ten silver camp cups from General Washington’s field equipment made in Philadelphia in August 1777, as well as original letters written by Washington during the War of Independence.
Many of the national treasures in the collection have not been on public display for decades, including the tent George Washington used as his sleeping/office tent throughout the Revolutionary War. It is perhaps the greatest relic of the Revolution (the first “oval office” of the first Commander-in-Chief of the United States).
The collection includes the iconic painting The March to Valley Forge by William B.T. Trego, Patrick Henry’s law books, two original copies of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, a major collection of Revolutionary War arms, and documents that include Baron von Steuben’s Oath of Allegiance to the United States, signed at Valley Forge.
The Museum will proudly display the Commander-in-Chief Standard, believed to be the earliest surviving 13-star American flag. It was used to mark General Washington’s presence at his headquarters and on the battlefield. Please visit www.AmRevMus.org/content/make-gift and consider wearing a replica of the Commander-in-Chief Standard as a lapel pin, honoring George Washington and supporting the Center’s efforts to build a living memorial to the Revolutionary generation.
Now more than ever, America needs a museum dedicated to the people, events and ideas that forged our freedoms, inspired our greatest achievements as a nation and sustained us through our darkest moments. For more information about how you can help, please visit www.AmRevMus.org/content/support.
The above op/ed represents the opinion of the author who is in no way affiliated with Glenn Beck