As we approach President’s Day, it’s interesting to note how and why so many Americans know so little about their country. Later we’ll give you some interesting facts about our presidents.
A recent study by “Newsweek” asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take the same test that is given to foreigners who want to become American citizens. By the way, about 92 percent of citizenship applicants passed that test so immigrants do well. But we, the people, do not.
Among U.S. citizens, 29 percent could not name Vice President Mike Pence; 43 percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights; 40 percent do not know America fought Japan and Germany in World War II; 73 percent do not know communism was the main concern of the Cold War; and 67 percent of American citizens do not know that our economic system is capitalism. That’s a disaster!
So what’s going on? First, it’s quite clear that the public school system is a main culprit. It’s no longer teaching history, geography or civics in an effective way. I’m generalizing; I know there are some good schools but most public schools could not care less about instructing young Americans how their country works.
Number two: The internet has created a generation of self-absorbed, addicted, distracted and ignorant people. The powerful machines, hand-held many of them, are diverting a lot of Americans away from real life. You can now create your own world on the net devoid of reality—and millions of Americans are doing that. The result is that a very few shrewd people are now wielding enormous power.
Many Americans are voting for what they can get, not for what is best for this nation—and both the Republican and Democratic parties know it.
Next we’ll turn to a little factual history about our presidents. Although this was designed as a test, most of us won’t be able to answer elementary school questions, so we’ll just give you the answers in parenthesis after each question.
Which president served the longest? a. George Washington, b. Franklin Roosevelt, c. Theodore Roosevelt, or d. Herbert Hoover (B)
Which president served the least time in office? a. James Garfield, b. Gerald Ford, c. William Henry Harrison, or d. Zachary Taylor (C)
Who was the youngest president to occupy the White House? a. Theodore Roosevelt, b. John Kennedy, c. Bill Clinton, or d. Ulysses Grant (A)
Who was the oldest president at the time he was first elected to office? a. Richard Nixon, b. William Henry Harrison, c. John Adams, or d. Ronald Reagan (D)
Who was the tallest president? a. Abraham Lincoln, b. Barack Obama, c. Lyndon Johnson, or d. Bill Clinton (A)
Who was the shortest president? a. John Adams, b. John Quincy Adams, c. Chester Arthur, or d. James Madison (D)
Match the president to the nickname: 1. John Adams (G), 2. William Henry Harrison (E), 3. Andrew Johnson (B), 4. Theodore Roosevelt (A), 5. Ronald Reagan (C), 6. James Buchanan (D), 7. John Quincy Adams (F)—A. The hero of San Juan Hill, B. The Tennessee tailor, C. Dutch, D. The bachelor president, E. Tippecanoe, F. Old man eloquent, G. His rotundity
Which president married a woman more than five years older than he? a. George Washington, b. Millard Fillmore, c. Warren Harding, or d. Richard Nixon (C)
Which president was divorced prior to being elected? a. Franklin Roosevelt, b. Gerald Ford, c. Chester Arthur, or d. Ronald Reagan (D)
Which president gave his wife 52 pairs of socks to darn upon their marriage: a. Richard Nixon, b. Herbert Hoover, c. Calvin Coolidge, or d. George Washington (C)
The father of which president wrote on his son’s Harvard application that the young scholar was “careless and lacks application”: a. John Quincy Adams, b. Zachary Taylor, or c. John Kennedy (C)
Which president said, after his unruly daughter interrupted a White House meeting, “I can be president of the United States or I can control [my daughter]. I cannot possibly do both”? a. Harry Truman, b. Theodore Roosevelt, c. Ronald Reagan, or d. Bill Clinton (B)
The mother of which president fretted that her son had no sense of time and would “delay and delay and delay,” frequently keeping people waiting? a. George Washington, b. Thomas Polk, c. William Henry Harrison, or d. Bill Clinton (D)
Which president said in an interview after leaving office: “Some of the presidents were great and some of them weren’t. I can say that because I wasn’t one of the great presidents”? a. Martin Van Buren, b. Chester Arthur, c. Harry Truman, or d. George W. Bush (C)
Which president lost the White House china in a poker game? A. Benjamin Harrison, b. Grover Cleveland, c. Chester Arthur, or d. Warren Harding (B)
Which president skinny-dipped in the Potomac? a. Abraham Lincoln, b. John Quincy Adams, c. Theodore Roosevelt, or d. Gerald Ford (B)
The younger generations must learn more about our history in order to find our values and the fabric of our economic system.