Donald Rumsfeld recently made the comment that not enough people study history and I couldn't agree more.
He said: "I think the biggest problem we've got in the country is people don't study history anymore. People who go to school in high schools and colleges, they tend to study current events and call it history... There are just too darn few people in our country who study history enough."
I don't know many college history classes that are current event classes, but I know that it is a problem in some high schools. One of my colleagues has a son who just graduated from a local high school and his world history class spent half of their time discussing current events from the newspaper. While I think trying to find ways to link current events to their historical roots could be a interesting approach to high school history - just talking about world events doesn't even come close to addressing the subject. So for once, me and the Big-D agree.
Of course, Rumsfeld made this comment about the study of history as a way to explain President Bush's low popularity ratings.
He claimed: "There's never been a popular war. You can't name a popular war. There isn't such a thing."
"George Washington was almost fired."
"The Civil War was the ugliest thing -- carnage. 10,000, 15,000 people killed in a battle."
"Same thing in World War II... Franklin Roosevelt was one of the most hated people in the country and he was President of the United States. He was Commander-in-Chief. He did a terrific job."
This point I'm not so sure about. While it is true that in all wars there are people who are unhappy about the conflict and struggle, at the same time there were some wars that have been generally embraced by the majority of the American people and could be viewed as popular wars. The two that spring to my mind are the Spanish-American War of 1898 and the Gulf War of 1992. Of course what these two wars had going for them that you can't claim about the Revolutionary War, the War in Iraq, or even World War II -- is that each of them was relatively short and had few American casualties.