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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Is American Patriotism An Endangered Specie? 

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.  |  June 14, 2015  Education Views 

During the recent Memorial Day celebration, Americans remembered those who died in the service of our nation. At many events, the strains of “God Bless America” wafted through the air as voices rang out in patriotic pride: 

"While the storm clouds gather, Far across the sea, Let us swear allegiance, To a land that’s free; Let us all be grateful, For a land so fair, As we raise our voices, In a solemn prayer. God bless America…."

Written by Irving Berlin and introduced by Kate Smith in 1938 on Armistice Day (now Veterans’ Day), “God Bless America” ranks high as one of our favorite patriotic hymns.  Without mentioning specifics, the lyrics refer to events that were unfolding as Hitler marched across Europe.  Yet we understand the meaning of those lyrics because we have read the historical account about the brutality of the era and its stark contrast to our freedom in America. 

But what if we didn’t know about the events surrounding World War II… 

At another patriotic concert that I attended that holiday weekend, the “Lincoln Portrait” by Aaron Copland was performed.  Labeled “radical” early in his career, Copland became one of the century’s foremost composers, writing musical scores that had a distinctive blend of classical, folk, and jazz idioms.  In 1942 he composed “Lincoln Portrait” as a rare musical tribute to an American president, a work which played a powerful inspirational role in those early days of World War II as we faced a dark, uncertain future.   

In this classical orchestral composition, Copland wove together multiple strands of music, text, history, ceremony, and politics with serious public and artistic statements, creating a uniquely American composition.  The work is a musical portrait of Lincoln with narrated excerpts from Abraham Lincoln’s speeches and letters with the inclusion of folk songs of the era.    

It is the eternal struggle between two principles, right and wrong, throughout the world. It is the same spirit that says 'you toil and work and earn bread, and I'll eat it.' No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation, and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle. [Lincoln-Douglas debates, October 15, 1858]

That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth. [Gettysburg Address]

Copland provided no historical context for “Lincoln Portrait,” though American audiences understand the message of the lyrics because we have studied American history. 

But what if the audience has not studied the history about the founding of America, the Civil War, World War II, the Third Reich, Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, the Southern slave era, or American music from the 19th century?  

If the history of America is altered or ignored, how does that affect how we celebrate patriotic days… or will we even celebrate them as patriotic commemorations…or find cause to belt out spirited renditions of patriotic tunes?

Sounds far fetched? Then consider this.

In studying the Gettysburg Address, Common Core students are instructed to read the document as informational text rather than as one of the greatest speeches in history and by one of the greatest American presidents. 

The teacher is required to read the address aloud without any emotion – “close reading”. Students are not allowed to ask questions about the cause of the Civil War or why Lincoln had traveled to Gettysburg, because that is outside the text of the address.  But what about Lincoln’s reference to equality?  Does the student understand that Lincoln’s audience knew he was talking about slavery and the causes of the war? 

And how is the student to understand the meaning behind the words of Lincoln’s speech? Absent the historical context, it is insane to think that students will “deeply” (Common Core term) understand the speech.

It is obvious even to those with half a brain that Common Core students will have only a shallow knowledge of history, one that is also intellectually limited.  Even worse, Common Core students will hate America. 

We must recognize this radical Progressive teaching for what it is – to purposely destroy our connections with our American heritage.

Because of left wing Progressive educators, many Americans who attended government schools during the past 60 or so years rarely have any concept of the meaning behind patriotic holidays – viewing them instead as national socializing days.

If the great American experiment is to survive, then we must destroy Common Core and all of its tentacles.  We must fire any educator who uses the Progressive teaching philosophy in the educational instruction of our children. 

Better yet, let’s demolish the government schools and use the land for higher purposes.  Home and private schools gave us a higher level of educated Americans prior to the 20th century and government schools. Let’s do again what has been proven to work.

Copyright ©2015 Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. All rights reserved | www.drcarolehhaynes.com

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