Independence Day begs the question, "What would the world be like had the United States never been formed?" I know in my own heart that the entire planet has benefited. I say that as a proud American although many citizens of the world may disagree, even some Americans. Of course there have been, and will be, mistakes made by our leaders, and there are plenty of issues with which to deal across this nation. But I would put the U.S. above any other country in the world!
This 4th of July, we remember that the United States would not exist if not for the many people who died and suffered during the Revolutionary War. Those that fought for freedom and liberty gave up so much; and we reap the benefits of their suffering. But how many of us appreciate their sacrifices? Would you believe that 40% of 18-29 year olds surveyed did not know we gained our Independence from Great Britain! I’ll talk more about this later.
Apathy can kill any society and apathy is gaining on us!
A new study shows that only one percent of those aged 17-24 years meet both the current criteria to serve in the armed forces and want to serve. That is sad and dangerous to me! It’s not that the military is the best fit for some, but 99 PERCENT do not want to serve and/or cannot currently qualify! Similarly, less than one of every one hundred citizens currently serve, or have served, in the military. Would three or twenty out of one hundred be asking too much?
The apathy of serving is just one aspect. The apathy of ‘self-respect’ is another concern! In the same study, 71 percent of youths aged 17 through 24 would not qualify for military service. The military disqualifies potential service members for obesity, lack of a GED or high school diploma, felony convictions, taking ADHD prescription drugs or certain tattoos. See the WSJ Report for details.
Taking the military service requirements out of the discussion, I am literally shocked at that statistic of 71% being ineligible! The criteria for serving is not out of line. Just a high school education, not to be obese, self-control from drugs and illegal activity, and a professional appearance is all the military asks. What that tells me is strong families are in decline, largely causing this situation. But I already knew that by the frightening statistics that come out of the 43% of homes being fatherless.
When you look around at today’s youth (17-24) what do you see? It often depends on your circle of friends and family. Of those I know in that age group, 71% would certainly qualify, if not a much higher percentage! My circle is generally made up of strong families, and I think that is where the difference lies.
Ask five random 18 year olds to find Delaware on a map, let alone Pakistan or Afghanistan. Or ask a 22 year old how many terms our President can serve, and just how long a term is for a U.S. Senator. What do you think the top Google searches are for 17-24 year olds? Might a pop or reality TV star be in that mix? I have already mentioned that 40% in the 18-29 year group did not know that the United States achieved its independence from Great Britain. Taking the entire population into account, the percentage who have no clue is still high at 26%! The details are in the highlighted text.
Our youth are lacking in too many ways, and they don’t compete well with the youth of other countries. Here is evidence in the areas of Geography, Education, and Current Affairs.
From the Harvard Graduate School of Education
“In many ways, it shouldn't come as a shock, but it still does: Last year, when the National Geographic Society surveyed 18- to 24-year-old Americans to find out what they knew about the world, only 37 percent could find Iraq on a map, despite the fact that U.S. troops have been in that country since 2003. (Places closer to home didn't fare much better: 50 percent couldn't locate New York, the country's third largest state.)”
From the Bloomberg News:
“Fifteen-year-olds in the U.S. ranked 25th among peers from 34 countries on a math test and scored in the middle in science and reading, while China’s Shanghai topped the charts, raising concern that the U.S. isn’t prepared to succeed in the global economy.” Perhaps we expect too little from our kids.
Social Studies and Current Affairs
From an article in UK’s The Daily Mail:
“The questions that Americans could not answer went from the more challenging - how many justices are in the Supreme Court? (63 per cent did not know) To the most basic - who is the Vice President of America? (29 per cent did not know).
An alarming number of Americans did not know basic information about the Constitution, namely that it was the supreme law of the land, that it was set up at the Constitutional Convention and that the first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights.
Newsweek reported that civil ignorance is nothing new. Americans have been misunderstanding checks and balances and misidentifying their senators for as long as they have existed.
And their ignorance is only highlighted by the knowledge of their European peers.
In March 2009, the European Journal of Communication asked citizens of Britain, Denmark, Finland and the U.S. to answer questions on international affairs.
Europe came out on top. Around three quarters of British, Finnish and Danish people could, for example, identify the Taliban but just over a half of Americans could, despite the fact they led the charge in Afghanistan.
Back to the Military
No doubt that, when necessary, the military would lower their standards! But what they are saying is ‘we want the best we can get when we can get them’. As it turns out, many of the ‘best’ don’t decide to serve in the military. Personally, asking for a HS educated, healthy, trouble free, young person is not asking for the best, but for what should be the norm. Having been in the military for over 29 years, I can only pray that the typical young adult in civilian life could even approach the typical young adult I worked with in the military! We can’t ignore this issue. Everything I have stated is fact. Our most precious resource is our youth, and we are wasting them! We need families, schools, media, etc. to teach values to our young and service to the community in some way!