Wednesday, December 07, 2005

America's Kids And Two Days Of Infamy

Today was the 64th Anniversary of the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor. Not surprisingly, my students, being 12 and 13 years old, don't know much about who attacked who or why. After-all, the attack occurred a long time ago, and America's struggles with The Imperial Japanese Army and Navy have not been in the news much lately.

But I was surprised how little they knew about the attacks of September 11th, 2001. This came up as part of a classroom discussion yesterday about Islam. (A brief introduction to Islam is on California's 7th grade history standards.)

Among the 34 students present, most of the kids recognized the name of Osama Bin Laden, but none could connect him in any way with the attacks on New York and Washington. Come to think of it, none of the students even knew that there had been an attack on the nation's capital.

Not one single kid could connect Bin Laden with the attack. None recognized the term Al-Qaida.

Only one student even knew that there had been a "plane crash in New York City." None knew the number of aircraft involved nor what happened to them or where.

Granted, the attacks occurred when the kids were in 3rd grade, but with this being the 5th Christmas that our nation has supposedly been "at war" with worldwide terrorism in general and Al-Qaida in particular, I find it very sad that there is a whole generation of young Americans who are growing-up without any knowledge of this "war," why we are in it as a nation, and for what so many of members of our armed forces are sacrificing life and limb.

It seems as though most of our young people don't even know who our enemies are or that our country is even at war.

Understandibly, we can't expect young teenagers to have a detailed knowledge about the current war, but to have none?

I think that kids are often good barometers of what's going-on in our larger culture, and, in our opinion, the kids' regrettable lack of knowledge about the war serves to demonstrate how the administration has failed to involve the people of our country in supporting the war-effort. This may explain why support for the Iraq War has dropped so precipitously and why many young adults no longer consider service in our armed forces.

For many of our fellow Americans, the war is something that is going-on over there and has no relevance at all to what is going on over here.

In this 5th Christmas of the War, isn't it sad that so many Americans don't seem to know what we are fighting for?

Now here's the question of the day: In December of 1944, with America approaching it's 4th Christmas of the Second World War, do you think that back then America's 13 year olds could at least tell who their country was at war with? Would they have been able to tell their teachers something about Hitler or Tojo?

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