Bruce Cole, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, thinks that especially in the light of 9/11 "it is all the more urgent that we study American institutions, culture and history. Defending our democracy demands more than successful military campaigns. It also requires an understanding of the ideals, ideas and institutions that have shaped our country.
This is not a new concept. America’s founders recognized the importance of an informed and educated citizenry as necessary for the survival of our participatory democracy. James Madison famously said, "The diffusion of knowledge is the only true guardian of liberty." Such knowledge tells us who we are as a people and why our country is worth fighting for. Such knowledge is part of our homeland defense.
Our values, ideas and collective memories are not self-sustaining. Just as free peoples must take responsibility for their own defense, they also must pass on to future generations the knowledge that sustains democracy." Cole will be speaking at the Ashbrook Center on March 17th.