Americans celebrate a forgotten history

Like Trump, Americans routinely forget the facts.
Like Trump, Americans routinely forget the facts.
The president famously flubbed his Independence Day speech with laugh-out-loud history gaffes. But if nothing else, Donald Trump is in good company. Most Americans can't answer elementary questions about American history. 

       In a puzzling passage of the address, Trump remarked, "In June of 1775, the Continental Congress created a unified Army out of the Revolutionary Forces encamped around Boston and New York, and named after the great George Washington, commander in chief. The Continental Army suffered a bitter winter of Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown.
      "Our Army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rockets' red glare it had nothing but victory. And when dawn came, their star-spangled banner waved defiant."
       Pundits had a good laugh, and clever Twitter scribes altered the painting of  Washington at Yorktown to show a fighter jet zooming overhead. But that wasn't all. In mentioning Fort McHenry and the "rockets' red glare" Trump made references to another conflict entirely -- the War of 1812. He later blamed a defective teleprompter for the gaffe.          
       It's funny -- or maybe not.
       Only 36 percent of Americans can pass a multiple-choice test taken from the U.S. citizenship test. The poll, conducted by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and reported last fall, found that Americans have forgotten the basics. According to the foundation 72 percent couldn't correctly identify three of the original 13 states. And 60 percent didn’t know which countries the United States fought in World War II.
       And it's not that history instruction has gone downhill, necessarily. "For the past 100 years, Americans have performed poorly on multiple-choice recall tests of history," according to the foundation. "In large-scale tests that asked students to identify key dates and figures, students failed—in 1917, 1943, 1976, and on every National Assessment of Educational Progress’s U.S. History test administered since the exam was developed in 1987."
      Take the test on the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation's American History Initiative  webpage.


       Francis Scott Key, land of the free and slavery

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