By Alan W. Dowd

Military Hymns for Her
The US Military Academy has adopted gender-neutral lyrics for its storied hymns, “Alma Mater” and “The Corps”.

Old                                                                   New
“The men of the Corps”                                     “The ranks of the Corps”
“Guide us, thy sons”                                          “Guide us, thine own”

As AP reports, West Point officials decided to make the change “after attending funerals for female graduates killed in combat and listening to the line ‘Guide us, thy sons’ being sung.”

“Symbols and words are important,” said West Point superintendent Lt. Gen. Franklin Hagenbeck. “As leaders of character, do we expect our cadets or graduates to condone exclusion of women? No.”

There are currently 600 female cadets and 3,000 female graduates of West Point, according to AP.

Historic Failure
A report by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute reveals that some of America’s most respected universities are “among the worst-performing in the country regarding the teaching of America’s history and institutions.”

The massive study included some 14,000 college freshmen and seniors at 50 universities, measuring how much students learned about US history and civics during their undergraduate years.

“At the bottom of the civic knowledge gain rankings are Cornell, Yale, Duke and Princeton,” the 2007 report concludes. Students pay $30,000 and up annually to attend these elite schools, and their presidents earn $500,000 or more

Bottom 10
41 University of Pennsylvania
42 University of Massachusetts-Amherst
43 Oakwood College (Alab.)
44 University of California-Berkeley
45 Rutgers University
46 Princeton University
47 St. John’s University (N.Y.)
48 Duke University
49 Yale University
50 Cornell  University

“Based on our research, the lowest gains in knowledge in America’s history and institutions are found in many of these elite universities,” said Josiah Bunting III of ISI’s National Civic Literacy Board, adding that “presidents are simply not doing enough to help preserve our traditions of freedom and representative government.” Conversely, many smaller, low-profile universities, where presidents earn less than $167,000 annually, scored very well in teaching their students about US civics.

Top 10

1 Eastern Connecticut State University
2 Marian College (Wisc.)
3 Murray State University (Ky.)
4 Concordia University (Neb.)
5 St. Cloud University (Minn.)
6 Mississippi State University
7 Pfeiffer University (N.C.)
8 Illinois State University
9 Iowa State University
10 University of Mississippi

Find out more at http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/.

“F” is for US History
18         percent of 17-year-olds who do not know who America’s enemies were in World War II
26         percent of 17-year-olds who believe Columbus sailed for the New World after 1750
33         percent of 17-year-olds who do not know that the Bill of Rights guarantees the freedom of speech and religion
43         percent of 17-year-olds who know the Civil War was fought sometime between 1850 and 1900

Find out more at http://www.commoncore.org/.

As a contributing editor to The American Legion Magazine, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.