A new piece by Bill Bennett:
These are tough times for, and in, America. We are at war, and we find that war highly controversial. Many of our political leaders have record-low approval ratings and too many are held in ignominy. Washington — our nation’s capital — is held in contempt, as a laugh line by comedians. But perhaps a greater tragedy than all of this is that we seem to no longer have any kind of reference point. For indeed, we are not living in the toughest of times, we are not living in the worst of times, nor are we fighting the toughest of wars. But try telling that to our nation’s young people; too many of them absorb too much of the negativism taught by our culture to know this.
The truth is, we’ve been in far worse shape in terms of what we’ve had to endure in this country — but we may not have been in far worse shape in terms of what we know about our country. Too many of our high-school students do not graduate high school, and of those who do, too many do not know the basic facts of their own country’s history….
While we have our Washingtons, our Lincolns, our Roosevelts, our Trumans, our Reagans, we also have so many others — heroes in every walk of life, in every city in America. If we take on the complete study of our country again — the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly — we will realize that for every anti-hero that we can be criticized for, there are hundreds of heroes; for every dark moment, there are thousands of rays of light to be seen through the passing clouds
Those who watched the recent Medal of Honor service for Lieutenant Michael Murphy were awestruck by the presentation to this young man’s family — by hearing of how Lt. Murphy’s “powerful sense of right and wrong,” guided him his whole life, and how he embraced from an early age the importance of “defend[ing] those who could not defend themselves.” “Murph,” as he was known by his friends, was our nation’s 3,445th Medal of Honor recipient, the highest honor our nation bestows.
Why don’t our schools take next week, as Veteran’s Day is celebrated, to start a program where they learn about “Murph” and the other Medal of Honor winners throughout their elementary- and secondary-school careers? Why not invite a veteran in to school next week? Such study would help teach our children history with real-life heroes and, at the same time, it would help repay the debt to those heroes by transmitting their stories unto the next generations. I cannot think of a greater way for young children and young adults to learn history than through the stories that make our history — and these stories deserve to be told and retold.