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Letter: Schools downplay American history

American history educators are surely celebrating with your op-ed "Our embarrassing ignorance of history" [Opinion, July 5].

As a New York City history teacher for the past 29 years, I have witnessed first-hand the gradual diminution of U.S. history and civics in our state curriculum. So much of the school day is taken up with test preparation.

But the reasons for leaving our history behind go much deeper. During this Fourth of July celebration, how many Americans stopped to sing the hymn by Julia Ward Howe from 1862? "In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea./As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,/While God is marching on."

The story of America is the story of Christianity in the New World, from the Pilgrims to the present. Too many educators are either unknowledgeable or afraid to discuss our Judeo-Christian roots and the American exceptionalism they created.

America is not just one among the many nations. We are what Lincoln called "the last best hope of Earth," and our students need to hear this every day.

Thomas Testa, Baldwin