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OpinionJournal : Our Nation’s Memory

Bruce Cole writes in today’s WSJ.

The Whole Story [1]

Cole is the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities… and apparently an excellent writer. He makes an argument I’ve made for years as regards our cultural values, and our ability to pass such on to our progeny.

Normally, I am rather stoutly against social spending willy nilly. However, I consider, as I have said, that the original and primary purpose of government was supposed to be
to protect and extend the culture that erected it and gave it life.  As such making sure our cultural values and our cultural history, in particular, are worthy and proper tasks for government to undertake, in general.

Here’s the money lines:

“Such collective amnesia is dangerous. Citizens kept ignorant of their history are robbed of the riches of their heritage, and handicapped in their ability to understand and appreciate other cultures.

If Americans cannot recall whom we fought, and whom we fought alongside, during World War II, it should not be assumed that they will long remember what happened on September 11 or why we must be prepared and vigilant today. And a nation that does not know why it exists, or what it stands for, cannot be expected to long endure. As columnist George Will wrote, ‘We cannot defend what we cannot define.’ “