We Are All Bostonians
Before moving to Lakewood, I lived near Boston for 21 years.
There were things I loved about New England: clam chowder; salty summer days; its proud history; its preservation of a lovely period in American architecture.
I get back to New England often enough. I still have family there, and my work as a tour director sees me in Boston six or seven times a year. Beyond Boston’s modern face, the remains of our revolutionary past are scattered about: the grave of Sam Adams; the remnants of Paul Revere’s house; or the U.S.S. Constitution-that beautiful old ship that floats in the harbor and brings our industrious maritime past to life.
The students I shuffle from place to place seem to be sorely lacking in their knowledge of history. And I’m right about that. In a 2010 assessment, only 13 percent of the nation’s high school seniors showed proficiency in their grasp of American history.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author David McCullough has been an outspoken critic of this trend, blaming not just the education system, but also parents and grandparents for allowing our children to be “illiterate” in our nation’s history. After a lecture at a university, one student approached McCullough to express shock at learning that all the original 13 colonies were located on the East Coast. “I didn’t know that,” she said.
It seemed tragic that during the reporting of Monday’s Boston Marathon disaster there was scant mention of how symbolic the bombing of Boston really was. It demeaned our rich history, striking a chord in the place where our independence first stirred in the hearts of patriots.
And yet, it was spun as an incident that was meant to disrupt a sporting event. It was that, yes, but it was so much more.
It was an attack on liberty in the very place where liberty was born.
But that was barely mentioned by the press.
I was taught by my parents, my grade school and my community that love for country was as important as love of self, or love of others. What we love, we take care of and nurture. We are only the stewards of this country for a short time, after all. Patriotism ensures that we pass to our children the tenants this country was founded on; they must remain intact for those who will carry the torch long after we are gone.
You might recall the infamous Harvard study two years ago that fearfully declared that Fourth of July celebrations help to form beliefs and increase participation in events that favor a more conservative outlook. Since when is celebrating our country’s birth a statement of our politics?
And when did it become ill-mannered to love one’s country?
Is there a connection between our students’ lack of knowledge about America’s history and the attack on patriotism? Does it seem at times as if we are trying to create future generations that won’t wave flags at a Fourth of July parade, as if we are trying to slowly dissolve any sense of national pride?
And if so, for what purpose?
The attack on Boston on Monday was surely an attack on liberty.
But I say our liberty has been under attack for a long time now, and not just by some mysterious force. Some of it is coming from within.
Our liberty has proven to be a powerful example to countries around the world-the most powerful example in human history. To abandon that truth and not teach our children of its importance is a grave mistake.
And it’s up to us to correct it.
At the very least, every student in America should be able to point to Boston on a map and remember its significance in history.
As one reporter said last Monday, “Today, at last, we are all Bostonians.”