Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson spoke at the opening meeting for President Donald Trump’s appointed 1776 Commission on Tuesday, urging members to work together to restore the importance of America’s heritage in education.
“Today, as America faces new attempts to redefine the date of our founding, our national story is being rewritten and denigrated with irredeemably flawed descriptions,” he said.
Carson charged the members with the task of preserving American history at a moment when leftists are trying to tear it apart with revisionist education.
“Every sin from our past is highlighted, and every triumph is buried,” he said, characterizing the attempt by the left to shake the foundations of the country. “This historical revisionism amounts to nothing more than a coordinated attack on our history, our heroes, and our very inheritance.”
Members of the commission were sworn in and met in person and on the phone Tuesday afternoon to speak about their mission to restore America’s heritage in education.
The commission meeting was led by Matthew Spalding, the vice president for the Hillsdale College’s operations in Washington, D.C., who reminded the commission of their charge from the president’s executive order.
The goal of the commission, Spalding, noted, is to revisit the importance of the founding documents of the American republic and restore a common appreciation for the principles enshrined in them.
The commission has been tasked with producing a report for the president within a year and to recommend ways to celebrate the 250th anniversary of American Independence.
Dr. Carol M. Swain, a retired professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University spoke about how she was educated with a deep love and appreciation for America’s founding principles and the American dream and wanted to spread the message to the entire country.
“I believe we can become a much greater nation. We’re moving in the wrong direction and the way back starts with those founding documents,” she said.
Carson and many members of the commission spoke about how President Abraham Lincoln should be an inspiration for the task force, pointing to his frequent attempts to revisit America’s founding documents to call for a more perfect union.
Other members of the commission pointed to Abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s growing appreciation for America’s founding documents to chart a path forward to end slavery.
“We have a beautiful heritage; you can’t see it’s beauty without seeing how often we fall short of it,” President of the Hillsdale College Larry Arnn said. “If we are improved by anything it’s by seeking to honor that legacy and that attempt to live up to it.”
Members of the commission expressed their concern that the 1619 Project was an attempt to destroy the American narrative with critical race theory but noted with some optimism that prominent historians on the left and the right criticized the New York Times report.
Other issues raised by the commission were the importance of emphasizing Judeo-Christian religious values as the source for America’s founding, the importance of military service, patriotism, civic responsibility, and questioning textbooks in American public schools.