Fifty years ago, the nation watched as Ohioan Neil Armstrong became the first man to step foot on the Moon. The Apollo 11 lunar landing mission was guided by a dedicated team on Earth supporting the journey of Mr. Armstrong as well as Edwin E. Buzz Aldrin, pilot of the lunar module and the second person to walk on the moon, and Michael Collins, pilot of the command module.
This moment on July 20, 1969, mesmerized the nation and solidified the country’s lead in the space race.
This is a time in history we need to remember as a nation.
Seventy-five years ago, 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, in the D-Day invasion that turned the tide of World War II. The 9,000 troops who were killed or wounded allowed others to gain a foothold in Europe that led to the defeat of Adolf Hitler. U.S. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called it a “crusade” to end the war and the horrific acts against humanity perpetrated by the German leader.
This is a time in history we need to remember as a worldwide community.
Those who say history is boring or not relevant are wrong.
History tells the true stories about the struggles, victories, defeats and champions of freedom.
Knowing how the U.S. and world communities came together for an important cause is essential to every man, woman and child in order to be informed and engaged citizens in our democracy. Reading about events and discussing the impact is an important part of lessons taught in school. Yet Ohio, U.S. and world history courses all compete with other classes, including teaching students how to take standardized tests, for precious minutes during the school day.
We have a chance to connect with American history by viewing the space modules in museums, setting foot on the Pennsylvania hillside where the Battle of Gettysburg was fought, walking through the house of a historical local figure like James A. Garfield where he conducted his presidential campaign or watching Civil War reenactments by local history buffs.
The National Archives in our nation’s capital has the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights on display. They are real, and we can see with our own eyes the documents that remain the foundation of our government.
But interest is waning. Consider the Civil War as an example.
The National Park Service reported that the number of visitors to Civil War battlefields has declined. In 1970, more than 10 million people visited the top five war sites, compared to 3.1 million last year. That’s a 70 percent drop, according to the park service.
Some people go to great lengths to keep the stories alive. U.S. Rep. Jason Crow from Colorado just last week paid tribute to D-Day troops by recreating a parachute jump into Normandy, France. It was a reminder of the thousands of troops from all corners of the U.S. who displayed acts of courage, many of whom sacrificed their lives, so we could have freedom.
History and civics classes also teach how our government works. According to the most recent Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey, only 32 percent of Americans were able to correctly name all three branches of the government, with only 21 percent being able to name one branch and only13 percent two branches. It’s alarming that so many Americans are clueless.
Without this type of fundamental knowledge, we easily could fail to appreciate the importance of checks and balances in our government and how it impacts our everyday lives.
Each of us should look back at the events of yesterday. We learn from our history, both the good times, which help us to move in the right direction, and bad times, which hopefully remind us to not make the same mistakes.
We owe it to ourselves and our children to keep history alive.