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A Memorial Day Travesty By: Edgar B. Anderson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, May 22, 2003

You might think that all schools in the United States would use the occasion of Memorial Day to educate their students about the stories of the men and women who gave their lives in defense of our country.  However, you would be mistaken.  Look, for example, at what occurred not long ago in a public middle school in Southern California. 

The Friday before Memorial Day has arrived, and the administration has said nothing to its students about the significance of the upcoming holiday.  Visualize if you can what actually transpires.

It is a typical classroom scene in today’s California.  Most of the students are immigrants.  Their English skills are poor, and their knowledge of history is minimal.  They have been passed on to the seventh grade notwithstanding the fact that their academic performance is at only a third or fourth grade level.  Even after living several years in the United States, many of them continue to identify with their native countries.  They are America’s future.

Although Memorial Day is immediately upon us, the lesson for the students on this sunny Friday is not about the heroism and sacrifice of the nation’s servicemen and women.  Indeed there is nothing on the agenda about Valley Forge or Gettysburg, The War to End All Wars, Pearl Harbor or Iwo Jima, Omaha Beach or Anzio, Korea or Vietnam or the Persian Gulf. 

There is no explanation that for many Americans this is a weekend to lay flowers on the graves of loved ones who sacrificed their lives to protect our nation.  There is also no mention that many people attend church or synagogue to pray for those who never returned home from serving their country.  Neither is there any word about others who simply stay at home and mourn in solitude for those they have lost. 

There is nothing in what the students are learning to suggest that they ought to be grateful for the opportunity to grow up in America or that they should appreciate the enormous price that was paid to preserve our freedom.

Quite to the contrary.  Because of the political agenda of the left-wing ideologues who control this and so many other of the nation’s public schools, these kids are presented with a very different message – a message meant to convince them that the United States is a cruel, inhuman, and unjust place.

During the students’ lesson, the teacher from the next room drops by to borrow some supplies.  She expresses pleasant surprise when she discovers what the youngsters are studying.  “Oh, we are reading the same story!” she exclaims enthusiastically.

So what is this lesson that occupies both our class and the neighboring class?  It is a chapter in one of the school’s literature textbooks that deals with Manzanar, the internment camp in the Owens Valley of California where the US Government sent Japanese-Americans during World War II.

On the Friday before Memorial Day these 12-year old mostly immigrant children are given the following assignment:

“Write an essay describing what it would be like to be imprisoned by the Americans in Manzanar at Christmas time.”

Edgar B. Anderson is a graduate of Stanford Law School and works as a freelance journalist.

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